At their work session on Tuesday, Haralson County commissioners received requests from both Ambucare and the Fire Department for urgently-needed new emergency equipment.
Haralson County Fire Chief Brian Walker asked that the county invest in five new fire trucks.
In the past 20 years, the county has purchased four fire trucks, he said. It hasn’t been enough to keep the department’s fleet current. The existing fire trucks average 19 years old, he said. That means a lot of maintenance headaches; currently the department has 12 fire trucks that are used regularly and six are out of commission waiting for parts or other mechanical work, Walker said.
“We’ve got to start replacing trucks,” Walker said. “That’s where we have to work together and figure out, how do we want to do this.”
He presented bids from Pierce, Ferrara and HME, ranging from $538,560 per truck to $450,000 per truck and all bids included six-year, bumper-to-bumper warranties. The low bidder, HME, could spread the payments out over 10 years, Walker said. That payment each year would be $255,644 a year at 2.39% interest.
That would mean about $14.80 a year per $100,000 of valued property for local property owners, he told the commissioners. But he added that the cost is an investment.
“I can tell you on my tax bill, I pay $236 a year for fire protection,” Walker said. “I save over $1,000 a year in insurance premiums because we’re a four (on the ISO rating system).”
In order to maintain that rating — the ratings range from 10 to one, one being the best — and to keep residents safe, the fire department needs to have reliable fire trucks, he said. The fire department answers between 4,000 and 4,500 calls a year, Walker said.
“We’re there for (residents) no matter what and to keep them safe and also us safe, it would fix an issue,” Walker said of the expenditure. “I honestly don’t think that any citizen would be upset, knowing that their house would be safe.”
Bill Hightower, of Ambucare, also requested an allocation from the county. He requested that the commissioners allocate $318,918 of the American Recovery Act money toward the purchase or a new ambulance and another $66,920 for four CPR machines to place in four existing ambulances that serve the county — the new ambulance would already come equipped with the CPR machine, he said.
“Haralson County had received over $2.7 million by May of 2021,” Hightower said. “If that funds are spent related to COVID, they will receive the other 50%, $2.7 million, in May of 2022.”
He has spoken to attorneys for the county, the association for ambulance services and from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, about the legality of his request and they all told him that it was a fitting expenditure for the money, Hightower said.
“If it’s your loved one, that’s in cardiac arrest, that you watched suffocate by COVID … it’s horrendous,” Hightower said, turning to the audience at the meeting.
He told the commissioners that in the past three years due to the pandemic, the service has put in excess of 200,000 miles a year on the ambulances.
“I understand we’re looking at broadband and that is needed for our citizens,” Hightower said.
But he added that ambulance service is also needed.
The County Commission meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7 at 6 p.m.
In other business, commissioners:
- held a closed session to discuss personnel and land acquisition.
- heard a request from Commissioner Jamie Brown that the county stripe Cashtown Road from Morgan Road to Georgia 120. The road can be hard to navigate at night or when the conditions make it difficult to see, she said.
- heard that the county will need to approve the Georgia Department of Transportation’s new policy for the transit program. The changes are minor including word changes and a couple of sentences added, said Sandy Couch, deputy county clerk.
- opened the one bid that the county received on time for a two-year contract for propane. The bid was $2.79 per gallon from River City Propane. Currently the county pays $1.04 per gallon to Gas Incorporated. There was one bid that came in late, but the commissioners decided to follow it’s current policy and not open the late bid.
- heard from residents at Morgan Road and Georgia 113 that the intersection has been the site of numerous accidents — three in the last four weeks alone. They asked that the commissioners do something. Commission Chairman Ronnie Ridley said that since one of the streets is a state highway, they must consult with the Georgia Department of Transportation about what can be done.
- heard that a proposed redistricting map has been created. Residents will be able to access the map online at the county’s website.