Following the passage of Jefferson Township’s 5-mill continuing levy for emergency medical services (EMS) at Tuesday’s primary election, the township’s fire department chief Aaron Hauer shared his opinions on the levy and why he believes township residents should be exempt from the county-wide EMS levy.
The county-wide 1.3-mill, three-year tax levy for ambulance and EMS services in order to keep services intact also passed Tuesday by a 2,302-1,681 vote. Jefferson Township’s levy passed by a 255-152 margin.
One concern from Jefferson Township residents that surfaced from these two levies going to the ballot and passing at the same time is that Jefferson Township residents would end up paying twice for EMS services.
In an article published in Wednesday’s Record-Herald, Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean said, “I am very glad Jefferson Township’s levy passed. 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.”
After the article was published, Hauer contacted the Record-Herald to react to Dean’s comments.
“We would be Jefferson Township, and Jefferson Township lines we would cover with fire and EMS,” Hauer said. “What (Dean) is talking about is, to exempt us, they have to do an EMS district. When they went and took the levy verbiage to get approved, they were told they can exempt us, but if they do they have to have a joint district with the other townships and basically have board representation from each of the townships. If they did the entire county, then they would be in charge, so I think they didn’t want to lose any of that power.”
Hauer also mentioned that the legality of exempting the township was addressed by the state attorney general’s office when they issued an opinion to Jefferson Township. That office said the county does have a right to double tax the township, but other commissioners’ groups and townships throughout the state have come to some kind of agreement when this issue has surfaced in the past.
“The opinion was that in every instance, and they shared some statutes, the commissioners and the townships came to an agreement,” Hauer said. “To be honest, us having a full-time squad in Jeffersonville, it only helps the county. It helps Jefferson Township people obviously, it gives them the same run times as those in the city, but that third run that comes in, or the fourth run that comes into the city, guess what? Jeffersonville is the closest. They have called for Greenfield and called for Mount Sterling, well who is closer? We are.”
Hauer added that the EMS will be beneficial to many areas around Jefferson Township. With the passage of the Jefferson Township EMS levy, the township will have two trucks — rather than the one vehicle Dean had referenced, according to Hauer — to cover the north end of the county, which could potentially help on the freeway or in neighboring townships if assistance was needed.
“I don’t want any bad blood with the commissioners, but I also don’t want them to be concerned that we do not know what we are doing,” Hauer said. “We have brought in a lot of outside help to help make sure we are doing everything responsible for the community fiscally and safety-wise. I just don’t want the commissioners to think we aren’t going to do a good job with this. We are professionals and that is what you would expect if you lived there.”
Hauer said as long as he has been the chief, he has always felt the climate in Jeffersonville to be very supportive of the fire department. He said the residents are always ready and willing to come out with donations and support the various fish fry events, pancake meals or cook-outs.
“They come out, they love seeing the fire trucks in the parade, and (this levy) really solidifies how much they feel about the fire department and how much they feel it is so important for them and us to be in the community,” Hauer said. “It isn’t like, ‘We are fine with what we got,’ it is like ‘Hey we like what we got, but we want more,’ and I hope we have the ability to do that, to give them more of what they deserve. Just because we live in a small area, it does not mean that they are not worth having the best of the best professionals we can offer.”
Stay with the Record-Herald for more coverage of the Jefferson Township and County-wide EMS services.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy