The Washington Court House Kiwanis Club hosted a “Meet The Candidates” night Monday and longtime Washington C.H. City Council member Dale Lynch was in attendance to speak in support of the Fayette County EMS levy.
For the May primary election, the Fayette County Commissioners have placed a 1.3-mill, three-year tax levy for ambulance and emergency medical services on the ballot in order to keep county-wide services intact. The estimated property tax revenue that will be produced by the 1.3 mills is calculated to be $1,043,587 per year, according to the certificate signed by Fayette County Auditor Aaron Coole.
During his presentation, Lynch, who is a teacher, made a lesson out of the topic and asked a series of questions about the EMS service. The first question was when the service was started, of which no one answered immediately, before Lynch told the crowd it was in 1976.
“This one is easy, how many days a week does EMS operate?” Lynch asked as the crowd responded. “Seven, you got that one. How many hours a day do they operate? (‘24 hours’ responded the crowd) 24, you are doing better. And by the way, 365 days a year. How many 911 calls did the EMS respond to in 2017? Someone said 4,000 and you are in the ballpark, it was 4,592 in 2017.”
Lynch continued by asking what the crowd thought was the average life-span of an EMS ambulance, to which a few answered around 10 years, before he informed the crowd it is five to seven years. His final bit of information? The oldest ambulance in service is 19-years-old.
“Now you can see why we need the EMS and to pass this levy,” Lynch said. “You could easily say, ‘Why doesn’t the hospital just continue to do it? Why don’t the commissioners just continue to pour in $600,000 a year for that?’ I can answer that pretty easily. The reason is because the county has had a lot of money taken away from it by the state. But also, think about it, what do you think a lot of calls they answer are about these days? Drugs, that is exactly right. The cost of that has skyrocketed, the number of calls have skyrocketed.”
Another impact of the drug problem is the increase in foster care costs of the kids whose parents are on drugs, Lynch said. He said the county has gone from around $500,000 a year to over $1 million in foster care. This is one reason why, Lynch said, the commissioners cannot keep funding the EMS as many other aspects of the county expenses have also increased.
During the question and answer portion of the evening, two questions were asked of Lynch, which were answered by Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean, who was in the crowd. The first asked about availability of squads, which Dean said would remain the same at two during the day with a third available if needed, though he hoped to update the equipment with the levy dollars. The second crowd member asked Dean if the intention was for the county to no longer accept money from townships to cover a specific area for EMS services. Dean said as long as the levy passes they would not have to ask for the per capita amount from villages, townships and the city to cover the EMS expenses, and this decision was made to “make the EMS whole” for the year.
“All of that was volunteer and we are very fortunate that everybody got together to help,” Dean said. “What she is referring to is that there was a gap in funding this year for the EMS. The county has been funding it every year at about $600,000 to $660,000. In order to make the hospital whole, in other words so they wouldn’t lose money, this year we asked all of the entities to contribute $10 per capita based on population. They weren’t required too, but they all volunteered and pitched in to keep the EMS running and intact this year.”
If passed, the county will review the levy in three years to see if the situation calls for the levy to be renewed or dropped. Additionally, the EMS service will continue to cover the Jeffersonville area even if the village passes its own levy, which is on the ballot this year, according to Lynch.
“I was thinking, in June of 1957 I was 10-years-old,” Lynch said to the crowd at the Crown Room in the Rusty Keg Monday. “My dad was 39, about a month away from 40. He had a massive heart attack while at work. A couple of the guys working with him put him in a car and took him to the doctor’s office. I think he was probably dead before he got to the doctor’s office, but they tried to revive him. I have always wondered, as I look back on that, if my dad might have survived had there been an EMS around at that point in time.”
Stay with the Record-Herald for more previews and coverage of the May primary election.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy