EMA Director Alex Case reported during the Dec. 3 County Commission meeting that CHI Memorial and the county are finalizing a four-year, $400,000 contract that will make CHI Dade’s new ambulance service.
Case said that he and county attorney Robin Rogers have their third contract revision for CHI for review. Dade, Walker County and CHI will meet continuously to discuss emergency planning until the contract with Dade goes into effect on Feb. 1.
“We will ask that we have a called meeting once [the contract is signed] through the attorneys and we’ve gotten everything we asked for,” Case said.
“What’s the end goal in this three years or four years down the road?” Commissioner Phillip Hartline said. “Are we going to get out of the ambulance business?”
“We can’t get out,” Case said. “We’ve got to keep an ambulance in our county to keep our zone.”
Case explained that Dade has the ability to control what ambulance service is used in the county and how they charge the taxpayers. Back in 2008, Hutcheson owned Dade’s zone and was able to charge as much as they wanted to taxpayers.
“Our end goal in four years is that – [CHI] wants to put their own trucks in here,” Case said. “However, Memorial lost $62 million to date. That’s what they told us. We tried to negotiate a lesser price but they lost $62 million.”
Hartline then requested that the commission have a discussion about the Joint Development Authority. Hartline wondered what benefits the county gets from paying over $26,000 per year to the JDA. Hartline said he actually wanted to call a vote to remove the JDA from Dade but wanted to hear from members as to why a vote should not be made.
JDA Vice-Chair Evan Stone said that if the commission removed the JDA, industrial growth in Dade would be badly hurt.
“The people that are really helped by this are the people that need to be helped by this and that is our industrial folks,” Stone said.
Stone reminded the commission that through the JDA, businesses get a $500 per new employee over five years tax credit, which can help industrial groups save money for things such as expansion.
“I talked to one business in that county that said they are spending about a $6 million add-on and they said that this did not benefit them at all,” Hartline said.
“I would like to go back to the tax incentive,” Stone said. “That only applies to businesses that are hiring new employees. Our goal is to help create jobs. That’s the only reason you have a JDA.
JDA member William Back reminded the commission that because of the JDA, Dade was able to land Vanguard, one of the biggest employers in the county.
“As far as the tax credit, in terms of Vanguard, we’re talking over $750,000 in total benefit,” Back said. “The JDA brought Vanguard to us and it has been a significant benefit. For years 2011 through 2020, Vanguard will pay upwards of $4 million in property taxes. Most of that goes to the schools but a chunk of it goes to the taxpayers of this county. I think that is significant.”
“Tell me a company the JDA has brought in besides Vanguard,” Hartline said.
“I don’t think we have,” Back said. “I think instead we were trying to keep companies from leaving the county. I won’t name names. It’s a lot cheaper to keep a company here than it is to bring a new company in. New companies are few and far between.”
Hartline thanked Stone and Back for their information and said that because of what they have explained to him, he will not seek to call a vote to remove the JDA.
Hartline then expressed that he wants Wells Road and Hales Gap to be paved immediately. Hartline said that the paving should start on Wells Road and go through Hales Gap to the interstate.
“We’ve got to fix this so that when the state shuts down [the interstate for any reason], we’ve got another way off of the mountain.”
Before labor costs, the cost of paving and striping alone will be $485,500.
“We need to start having the conversation of, ‘How do we fix this issue?’’’ Hartline said. “Because it’s coming. We have to address this.”
“Wells Road is coming apart,” Hartline said.
“This right here is serious,” County Executive Ted Rumley said.
“It’s a million dollar project when all is said and done,” Hartline said.
Hartline made it clear that the county does not have the money to cover the paving.
Rumley and Hartline plan to visit the Department of Transportation in Atlanta to speak to the commissioner about the possibility of receiving funds to help pay for the project. The commission expects to likely only receive about a third of the total cost.
The commission made several obligatory proclamations and reappointments.
National Influenza Vaccination Week was proclaimed for the week of Dec. 6–12.
John Gothard was reappointed to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
Tim Easter was reappointed to the Board of Assessors.
Larry Case and Evan Stone were reappointed to the Industrial Development Authority.
Buford Stevens was reappointed to Limestone Valley RC&D.
Peter Cervelli was reappointed to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.
All items on the consent agenda were approved unanimously.