Soon, Georgians who buy fireworks will see part of their tax dollars sent to trauma centers, fire services and public safety. Amendment 4 passed in Georgia, and according to the bill, the current 5% state sales tax from firework purchases will go toward giving fire personnel and trauma centers more resources. Claire Davis spoke with one trauma doctor who says the funding will help trauma centers in the state.
Medical Center Navicent Health's Trauma Director Dr. Dennis Ashley knows what it's like to work in an emergency situation. “We can handle two major traumas at once here, life-threatening injuries,” said Ashley.
He says they see about 2,800 trauma patients a year. “The only funding that trauma centers receive now from the state is through the super-speeder law which generates about $21 million a year,” said Ashley.
Ashley says that money is spread among 30 trauma centers in Georgia. That's why he says the passing of Amendment 4 is so important. “If you look at all the things you need, all the personnel you have to have it's about $6 million a year for a level 1 trauma center. That's before you see the first patient. We receive about $1 million a year to support trauma center funding. You can see it doesn't go a long way,” said Ashley.
The amendment says 55% of the existent 5% excise tax will be funneled to trauma care. 40% to Georgia firefighter standards and 5% local public safety. Something Chesney Butler says he's behind. “It'll put money back into training people, some of the first responders who do a great job,” said Butler.
He’s the Field Operations Manager at Freedom Fireworks in Warner Robins. Posted signs let customers know how much excise tax is tacked on to their bill. “So people can follow where the money is going. To actually see the impact of the money they're buying their fireworks to actually have something they can trace back to,” said Butler.
Amendment 4 will start January 1st, 2017.