First off, ALL our First Responders are absolutely the best, not just the EMS. They deserve great pay and great equipment, all of them. For EMS, the 3.5 mills is a pile of money. Let’s review the numbers.
The current EMS budget takes in 2.3 million per year in total revenue., Commissioner’s just purchased two new chassis, not ambulances as they stated, to replace very old ones with 350,000 miles on them. You can’t buy a fully equipped ambulance for 126,000. That brings the total for this year to around 2.5 million dollars.
Most of that comes from grants, emergency calls, some from the courthouse and the EMS has been self-sustaining since 1979.
The new levy, combined with the revenue collection that they will still do, brings the total revenue for EMS to around 6 million per year if the levy passes.
Or 60 million over 10 years and with just a 10 % increase in our taxes over 10 years it would yield over 66 million dollars.
Under current conditions over 10 years, that would be around 27 million dollars. Over double current costs.
So where is the 39 million difference going? More employees? That would fund 30 NEW employees added to existing. Seems like a lot. I think double.
All seven current squads need to be replaced, not patched up. The newest can be kept for spares.
A well-equipped basic ambulance runs around 375,000, a life squad with cardiac equipment runs around 600,000.
To give the EMS the best, we can purchase five life squads and two basic, all new, with ten warranties and service agreements for 3.75 million.
Over three years that’s worth it on a more reasonable levy. The rest of the money they need can come from the normal increases in property taxes and increased charges and bigger grants.
The Friends of the EMS and Commissioner’s say the current low funding is due to unpaid claims, Medicare, and Medicaid under payments.
All those unpaid drug overdose calls, years of them add up in a hurry. Medicaid has always been underfunded, nothing new and the state does provide grants to help cover some of these costs in addition to the direct payments.
Most Medicare patients have supplemental insurance to cover any deductibles. Some don’t and that makes an ambulance run an expensive cost to them.
Medicare itself does not pay enough to cover the 80% they are supposed to pay. We shouldn’t have to make up the difference.
The national average response time for an EMS response is seven minutes. Williams County is 8-12. The Friends of EMS say they will TRY to improve that time. That’s unlikely.
If you live more than three miles from the station, it will take 8-12. If you live eight miles and it’s snowing or icy, maybe over 15.
The drivers are liable for any traffic incident. Short of rockets on the squad or Scotty beaming you to the call or 20 more squads, the time can’t improve much.
Recently Commissioner Lew Hilkert threatened the citizens by saying: If the levy doesn’t pass “We will have to cut services and a unit”.
So, compromise our safety when they have money to cover additional costs. To that we should say, we will just have to cut any Commissioner who would do that, at the next election.
For the Health Dept Levy: Big statement they want to build a new building, they don’t NEED a new building, just want one.
And within two weeks another article saying they may or may not have a grant for the building and they may or may not need the levy or use the levy, it’s just for “Operating Expenses”.
The ballot says operating expenses, so it can go to anything, more likely sewer related employees the EPA doesn’t provide funds for. Since they are even confused about what the levy will go to-they don’t need it, they just want it.
Farmers, fixed income retirees, hardworking families with kids cannot afford another dime in taxes. Inflation continues to worsen, recession looms.
For some elderly folks, this wipes out any new Social Security increase coming next year and forces them to decide if they keep their car or afford groceries.
I encourage everyone to vote NO on both levies. We cannot afford either. They need to come up with a reasonable “Plan B” for EMS.