Athens Voters Will See EMS Levy On November Ballot

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A 0.5-mill tax for Athens County Emergency Medical Service will appear on the November ballot as a replacement levy, the county commissioners decided Tuesday.

Because of a change in state law, a replacement levy will cost taxpayers more than it would have in the past.

Provisions were put in the state budget bill that eliminates a 10 percent state reimbursement on additional and replacement levies, according to Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson. Also eliminated for new and replacement levies is a 2.5 percent reimbursement some property owners get on owner-occupied homes and up to 1 acre of the land they are on.

Instead of the state picking up the 12.5 percent, it will now be paid by taxpayers.

"It's a benefit they use to get from the state that they (state officials) have taken away," County Commissioner Lenny Eliason said.

The five-year replacement levy, if approved by voters, will generate an estimated $446,173 annually. If the levy had been put on the ballot as a renewal, it would have generated an estimated $296,159. That's an increase in revenue of $150,014.

Replacement levies are collected on updated property values and therefore generate more money than renewals.

The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $17.50 annually. A renewal of the levy would have cost $9.56 annually.

Eliason said EMS has a need for more money to pay for station and equipment upgrades.

"As we evaluate the buildings, and they age, issues are going to come up," Eliason said.

For some time now, the commissioners have been looking at options for replacing the Athens EMS station on Union Street. Eliason said the increase in levy revenue also could help pay for that.

The state no longer picking up 12.5 percent of the taxpayer cost of new and replacement levies will not only apply to the EMS levy, but to other levies that will be on the November ballot.

York Twp. and Trimble Local Schools are both seeking voter approval in November of additional taxes. Albany, Lodi Twp., Rome Twp., Waterloo Twp. and York Twp. have all filed to get replacement levies on the ballot.

The deadline for filing for the November ballot is Aug. 7.