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February 28, 2013 Issue

Gold Cross brings in two new ambulances
Motor vehicle tax changes
Louisville installs tornado sirens

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Gold Cross brings in two new ambulances

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Gold Cross EMS, the ambulance service contractor for Jefferson County, is replacing two ambulances it uses locally, company CEO Vince Brogdon said Wednesday, Jan. 30.

Brogdon said the ambulances were at the company’s office in Augusta.

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“As we speak, we’re getting radios put in,” he said. “This is going to replace the Louisville and Wrens 24-hour vehicles.”

Brogdon said the new vehicles were being stocked with supplies and will be in Jefferson County in a week.

“Just the ambulance alone un-stocked is $125,000 apiece. So this is a $250,000 re-investment back into the county,” he said.

Maj. Carl Wagster, the county’s EMS director, said last week the two ambulances being replaced are three years old and have about 160,000 miles on them.

“They were new when they came in,” he said. “Brand spanking new.”

Brogdon said the ambulances being replaced will become spares and will be used when other ambulances require maintenance.

The CEO said the old ambulances are called type twos. The new ones are type ones, he said.

“This will be a bigger ambulance,” Brogdon said of the new ones.

“We’ve had several that we’ve used up here in Columbia and Richmond counties over the past year. We got one about two weeks ago, four came in last Friday (Jan. 25). Two of those four are coming down to Jefferson County as soon as they get stocked. Three more are on order,” he said.

“The initial stock is done here in Augusta,” Brogdon explained.

“We don’t have to re-order monitors or stretchers. We won’t sell the ones that are coming offline; we’ll use those for spares.”

Brogdon said Gold Cross EMS has three mechanics and two wreckers in the Augusta office.

“We’ve got several upgrades in this vehicle that we didn’t have in the other vehicles,” he said.

CEO addresses rumors of owner selling company

Brogdon said a comment made by the company’s CFO, Frank Lindley, was incomplete. Lindley was quoted in another publication as saying Gold Cross’ owner Bo Pounds might be selling the company.

“Bo plans to transit to an employee owned company over the next 10 years,” Brogdon clarified.

“It’s a 10-year plan. He (Pounds) wants to give back to the people who have been dedicated to him,” he said.

“Gold Cross is a homegrown business and intends to continue operations in the community as such,” the company stated in a recent press release.

“I have no intention of ever selling my business to any outside party. The sale of the business is actually a 10-year process of transferring ownership of Gold Cross to its employees. To preserve the integrity of service we provide, I find it only fitting that the ownership of the company be transferred to the employees,” Pounds, an Augusta native, stated.




Motor vehicle tax changes

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

After months of discussing how the change in paying taxes on motor vehicles will effect local government, the change is finally here. Soon local governments will know what the change will mean to local coffers.

The tax reform legislation made last year takes effect Friday, March 1.


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What it means is a change to when and how people pay taxes on new motor vehicles. This tax, in the past paid on the vehicle owner’s birthday, has been referred to as the birthday tax.

The way the new tax will be calculated is based on vehicles purchased on or after March 1.

In a press release from the Georgia Department of Revenue, the department states the taxes from the birthday tax will be replaced by a one-time tax placed at the time the vehicle is titled. This tax, called the title ad valorem tax (TAVT), will be 6.5 percent of the fair market as identified by the Georgia Motor Vehicle Assessment Manual. It will increase over the next two years, ending at 7 percent as of Jan. 1, 2015.

“The TAVT is applicable to dealer and casual sales but excludes non-titled vehicles such as trailers and other non-motorized vehicles which will remain subject to ad valorem tax,” the release states.

Bill Snider, owner of Old Capital Motors in Louisville, said car dealers are working to understand the law and comply with its requirements.

“Every dealer is in a scramble trying to figure it out,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “We get a lot of our information from the GIADA.”

Snider said this is the Georgia Independent Auto Dealers Association, based in Atlanta.

“They help us with compliance issues to be sure we’re doing it right,” Snider said.

“It’s a title fee now; but, it’s a tax any way you look at it. Plus there’s a T-SPLOST you have to work on,” he said referring to the extra penny on the dollar voted in by referendum last year. This tax goes to pay for certain transportation projects.

The law states the fee is based on the fair market value; but, Snider said his understanding is the fee can still be based on the actual sale price.

“Whichever is higher,” he said.

“Right now, we’re in discovery mode,” he said. “They just changed the way we apply for our titles. In Georgia, the car dealer has to apply for the title. So they have to collect that fee from the buyer,” he said.

Snider said there is at least one change that will create a problem for dealers.

“One thing that has changed that’s a real inconvenience to us as the dealer, now I have to go to the county where the buyer lives and apply for that title, which is a major inconvenience,” he said.

Snider said he updated the company’s software Monday night.

“We’re running tests and trials to make sure we’re doing it right. When you go to buy the title for a vehicle in a casual sale, that’s when you pay the fee. So the fee in that case is still paid to the tax commissioner,” he said. A casual sale is when one individual buys a vehicle from another individual.

“At a dealership, you’d have to sit down at the calculator and figure out that fee. You’re going to be paying a title fee to the county and state on that estimated value or again the selling price, whichever is larger,” he said.

“There are a lot of problems that I see for them to have to work out,” the dealer said.

The Georgia Department of Revenue has stated that motor vehicles purchased on or after March 1 and titled in Georgia will be exempt from sales and use tax and the annual ad valorem tax or birthday tax.

The TAVT applies to dealer and casual sales but excludes non-titled vehicles such as trailers and other non-motorized vehicles. These vehicles will still be subject to ad valorem taxes.

Vehicles owned prior to Jan. 1, 2012, will remain taxable as they’ve always been, with owners owing an annual ad valorem tax payable on their birthday.

Vehicles bought between Jan. 1, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013, are in an opt-in period. Owners can decide which system to use.

Owners in this last category who decide to opt-in to the new system will have to go their local county tag office any time between March 1 and Dec. 31 to opt-in.




Louisville installs tornado sirens

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Louisville has installed two tornado sirens as part of a warning system expected to go live this week.

Louisville City Administrator Ricky Sapp said Friday, Feb. 22, the posts are up and the sirens are installed.


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He said the sirens will be connected and activated this week.

One siren is located at city hall and the other is at the airport. Both will be activated through the 911 dispatch center.

“There is a backup activation system at the firehouse,” Sapp said.

Jim Anderson, Jefferson County’s 911/EMA director, said the parts of the system that had to be placed at the dispatch center are being paid for with grant funds.

“There are no additional funds that we’re having to put out for that,” he said, adding there is no cost to the center or to the county for the system.

“We will activate them upon notification from the National Weather Service of a tornado warning,” Anderson said.

A warning means a tornado has been spotted, he said.

Anderson said additionally the system can be activated if a funnel cloud has been seen by a member of public safety, which would be a firefighter, a law enforcement officer or a member of EMS.

Sapp said the system is wireless and has a solar charging system.

“The solar panels keep the batteries charged,” he said.

The system was paid for by a Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grant the city received several years ago.

“The award date was 2007,” Sapp said. “The total amount of the grant was $654,000. We have to complete the grant this year.”

The administrator said $45,000 has been budgeted for the tornado warning system.

The city has bought other things with the grant, including a complete crime mapping and report system, computer equipment for the police and fire departments, digital in-car cameras for the police cars and back-up generators for the police and fire departments.

“We bought a speed trailer information board and speed trailer,” Sapp said.

These last two items arrived Thursday, Feb. 21. Sapp said they have not been set up yet.

Plans are to have in-car computers.

“It’s a lot of money,” Sapp said. “One of the things we’re most excited about, we’re going to install a training smart board in the council room.”

The administrator said this will be used for training and for presentations during council meetings.

“It (the grant) enables a town like us to catch up. It’s really been a God send,” he said.

“On the first Wednesday of every month at 12 noon, we will do a testing of the sirens. That’s required by Georgia Emergency Management,” Sapp said. “The 911 center will be the lead on when to activate it.”

Sapp said he thinks the tornado that hit the area on Mother’s Day several years ago made everyone aware of the importance of having advance notice and being able to prepare for a tornado rather than just respond once one has touched down.







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