In response to the letter sent by Jefferson Township’s special counsel — Brosius, Johnson & Griggs (BJG), LLC — on July 25, the Fayette County Commissioners wrote a letter to the Jefferson Township Trustees this week informing them that two EMS levies “should and will stay on for collection of taxes.”
In May, by a vote of 258-153, Jefferson Township’s 5-mill continuing levy for EMS passed at the primary election. Also at the primary, a county-wide 1.3-mill, three-year tax levy for ambulance and EMS services also passed by a 2,326-1,688 vote. Due to the passage of both levies, residents in Jefferson Township will be double-taxed for EMS services.
Recently, the trustees of Jefferson Township invited the Record-Herald to their office to discuss the issue of double-taxing their residents. As previously reported, in the the letter dated July 25, BJG introduced the topic with the commissioners and requested a meeting with them (or a designated representative or legal counsel) to discuss the issue. In the letter sent by the special counsel, a potential solution posed would return the money raised within Jefferson Township from the 1.3 mill county-wide levy to the trustees to be used for the Jefferson Township Fire Department.
A letter addressed to the Jefferson Township trustees released this week provided insight into the commissioners’ decision to keep both levies. The first reason they gave states, “The citizens of Jefferson Township, those that are served by both levies voted in favor of both levies logically indicating that the citizens of Jefferson Township choose to request services be provided by both the county and the township.”
Jefferson Township Trustee Ryan Yenger said on Thursday that statement is untrue. Yenger referenced the official Fayette County Board of Elections (BOE) May 8 primary election results, and said Jeffersonville and the township were not in favor of the county-wide EMS levy. According to the county-wide EMS levy results, Jeffersonville voted 55 for the levy and 63 against the levy, Jefferson North voted 49 for and 64 against, and Jefferson South voted 84 for and 87 against.
“That is the first thing that really upset me, they are once again saying that the people of Jefferson Township voted for both levies and that isn’t what happened….clearly the people of Jefferson Township voted for the Jefferson Township levy,” Yenger said. “That is misleading and inaccurate in the letter they responded with.”
According to the BOE results, in Jeffersonville 100 voted for the Jefferson Township EMS levy and 28 voted against, in Jefferson North 55 voted for and 58 voted against the levy, and in Jefferson South 103 voted for and 67 voted against.
The second reason the commissioners cited is based on conversations with Fayette County Memorial Hospital and the county auditor that led to the calculation of 1.3 mills collection for the entire county, “based on what is needed to provide EMS services to the Fayette County residents. If we enter into an agreement as you describe, the funds that Jefferson Township Trustees are making demands for, we would be short in providing EMS coverage to all townships, villages and the City, which is the purpose of the 1.3 mill levy. We do not intend to create a budgetary shortfall or diminished services elsewhere, nor do we, the commissioners intend to short the remaining residents of Fayette County for something that the voters of the entire county voted to approve.”
Yenger said to him this implied that if they exempt Jefferson Township from paying the 1.3 mills that they won’t be able to provide for everyone and it would impact the rest of the county.
“If they don’t have the operating expense of running in Jefferson Township then it shouldn’t impact the rest of the county because they won’t have the cost of running Jefferson Township, they won’t have the cost of maintaining a vehicle to keep up in Jefferson Township,” Yenger said. “You don’t buy beans for land you aren’t going to farm next year. What gets me is that they won’t have any costs in the township because we are having our service running in Jefferson Township. How is that going to impact the rest of the county?”
Finally, the commissioners wrote that the county-wide levy is a three-year levy, allowing for voters to decide if this is preferable to previous arrangements.
“We are not opposed to discussing solutions going forward, but the years for taxation on this levy are 2018, 2019, and 2020,” the commissioners wrote in their letter. “We are nearly one-third of the way through the taxation period. Rather than make changes to what was voted into existence by the voters of Fayette County and Jefferson Township, perhaps we can come to a reasonable solution moving forward.”
Yenger said he doesn’t know what else is reasonable besides what they offered to the commissioners. He said the trustees will entertain any offer that is “reasonable.” However, Yenger said it is a misstatement for the commissioners to say they will go forward with how the people voted when Jefferson Township did not support the county-wide levy.
“We are moving forward and we are positive about Jefferson Township’s EMS service,” Yenger said. “We will have a medical director in place come Monday. We are also hiring the paramedic administrator position, and we have positions on indeed.com for paramedics and EMTs and we encourage anyone in the area to apply. Anyone in the area who wants to apply we would love to have you.”
Stay with the Record-Herald for more on this story.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter@MartiTheNewsGuy.