Voters keep county-wide EMS intact

By Martin Graham -

Fayette County residents passed a county-wide levy for emergency medical services (EMS) during the primary election Tuesday.

According to unofficial results from the Fayette County Board of Elections, residents passed a 1.3-mill, three-year tax levy for ambulance and EMS services in order to keep county-wide services intact by a vote of 2,302 “for” and 1,681 “against.” This was one of two EMS levies on the ballot Tuesday.

“It feels great (to have the community support),” Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean said Tuesday evening. “We got our message out and I am very happy the community saw that one good ambulance is the way to go. The main thing with this money is that we will continue to run things like they are and now we can update equipment. There will be enough money to keep adding new trucks.”

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. Dean said following the three years the voters will have a chance to see what the levy accomplished and if they feel it is no longer the best option, then they will not be permanently stuck with it.

One issue that has surfaced from the two levies going to the ballot at the same time is that Jefferson Township residents could end up paying twice for EMS services. Jefferson Township Trustee Ryan Yenger said, according to the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, they have seen this issue arise before in the state, and commissioners – or whoever makes the decision – could exempt the township from paying the county-wide EMS levy.

“I am very glad Jefferson Township’s levy passed,” Dean said. “We will need to talk to the prosecutor’s office about (exempting the township) following certification. I know exempting townships has to do with forming EMS districts. I don’t know since we passed this levy with the Uniformity Act that everyone has to be included in it, so legally I don’t know what we are allowed to do or not allowed to do. I think Jefferson Township will need the county-wide service as a back-up, because they are only going to have one vehicle, to my understanding, for the crew. If, for instance, they are in Greene County and the next call comes through at Virginia Court, which is not very far from Miami Trace, it is many, many miles to get there.”

Overall, Dean said it was the commissioners long-term goal to have a permanent station in Jefferson Township, but the funds to make it happen were never available. Additionally, he said he believes this is good for all of the residents in the township to now have EMS services funded from both directions.

The Fayette County EMS was founded in the late 1970s as a volunteer organization and operated for many years with donations from the public. Periodically, the county and/or the City of Washington Court House would purchase a truck, ambulance or other necessary equipment for the EMS. This year, the county has committed to fund EMS with $650,000.

“This coming year, the state is making the county kind of whole with some funds that they’re replacing to make up the $600,000 deficit,” Dean said. “We went to all the townships, the city and the villages and told them how much we can make up. For the rest of it, we asked them to come up with 10 dollars per capita in their city, village or township. That way it would raise approximately $290,000 because they have about 29,000 people in Fayette County. They are starting to replace one of the trucks now thanks to the money the commissioners and the townships helped with.”

By Martin Graham

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy