AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — It’s as critical of a vote as city leaders have faced in years.

“Make or break, do or die, that application is due by five tomorrow, I think my colleagues on the commission know that,” said Mayor Garnett Johnson.  

The Procurement Department told commissioners they took what is normally a 45 to 60-day bid process and turned it around in three days. The company being recommended is Ameripro after it outscored long-time provider Gold Cross during evaluations.  

But commissioners were not sold on the recommendation.  

“My concern is the company has never done any coverage over 22,000 residents. Augusta is 207,000 [residents], I think what we’re going to be doing is setting ourselves up for failure,” said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle. 

Ameripro negotiated a $180,000-a-month subsidy from the city. 

“In addition, the cost is more than what Gold Cross was asking for in the first place,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

The vote to contract with Ameripro divided the commission five to five, and Mayor Johnson broke the tie by voting no on the contract.

“City staff was tasked with going to the table and creating a contract that would make sure ambulatory care was given to our citizens and that contract was not taken because of bad politics,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

‘It is disappointing that we gave staff a job to do, they did their job, and we did not listen to what they had to bring back to us,” said Commissioner Stacy Pulliam.

But opponents said the recommendation left too many questions unanswered.

“So much subjectivity on how it was graded so differently between the two companies and yet we couldn’t ask any questions on the why,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.  

City attorney Wayne Brown told commissioners that not having a contract will likely doom Augusta’s chance to be awarded the county ambulance zone by the state with the application deadline Friday.