Published Fri, Nov 2, 2012 9:15 am Dateline
Hocking County Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS) wants to expand its coverage and upgrade its equipment, but it needs the residents of Hocking County to open their wallets to help facilitate the makeover.
HCEMS is asking voters to approve two replacement one-mil tax levies that would allow it to expand and improve service for Hocking County residents.
These proposed replacements would supplant two old levies from 1976 and 1979.
“Our EMS agency is currently funded with four one-mil levies,” said Hocking County Auditor Ken Wilson. “EMS asked the county commissioners office to place two of those levies on the ballot as replacements, which would generate additional revenue based on their needs.”
While property values have continued to increase since the levies were first enacted in the 1970s, property owners are still paying the equivalent of one-mil of the 1970s value of their property.
“EMS has changed a lot since it began back in the 1970s, and with that, there’s a lot of things we can do now that we couldn’t do before,” said Scott Brooker, Chief and Director of HCEMS. “Now with that new technology we can give better care, a lot more intensive care and really make a difference, but there is a price tag that goes along with that.”
According to the HCEMS website, the replacement tax would cost roughly 13 cents a day for someone who has a home valued at $100,000. The cost would be about ten cents a day for a $75,000 house.
This is the first time since 1997 that HCEMS has asked for a tax increase.
“We have equipment that’s getting to the end of its life cycle,” said Brooker, who noted that if passed, the levy would allow HCEMS to significantly upgrade its equipment and supplies.
For example, Brooker said cardiac monitors are roughly $25,000 apiece and each of their six vehicles has one monitor.
"That's a lot of money just in a cardiac monitor," he said.
HCEMS currently employs 18 full-time paramedics and 20 part-time paramedics and EMTs, which has allowed to to gradually expand coverage.
HCEMS has had a 55 percent increase in the number of ambulance runs it makes since 1997 -- 12 percent just since last year.
To deal with the added calls, HCEMS opened a third station in Carbon Hill on Sept. 1 in addition to their two main stations in Logan and Laurelville.
That allows emergency workers to cover 424 square miles of territory within Hocking County and reach the eastern region of the county, which includes Murray City and the Wayne National Forest.
However, if the replacement levy doesn’t pass, Booker says the Carbon Hill station would not be staffed full-time, which would limit HCEMS's ability to cover these regions.
Reaction to Levy
There has been little visible opposition to the proposed levies, and with good reason says Mike Mound, a resident of Hocking County.
“People depend on EMS, so I just can’t see this getting voted down,” said Mound. “Everybody needs EMS. Sooner or later, somebody is going to have to use them."
Hocking County resident Dana Kay Dalton echoed Mound’s sentiments.
“If we don’t support these levies, it’s going to end up hurting people,” said Dalton.
She said residents in the Carbon Hill area can’t wait for a rescue unit from the Logan station to reach them, which could be the case if the levies do not pass.
“You have to be there right now,” she said.