The levy that covers county-wide Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will be up for renewal on the November general election ballot.
The levy lasts for three years and, according to the Fayette County Commissioners, is the same as the previous levy approved by the voters three years ago.
The levy is 1.3 mills and, if renewed, the new three-year term will begin with the 2021 tax year.
“It’ll bring in the exact same amount of money as it did before,” said Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean. “The effective tax rate will be lower than the 1.3 mills because, as new companies and businesses come and new homes are built, it spreads out the amount of money that could come.”
A controversial local concern regarding the levy is a claim of double taxation on Jefferson Township residents.
During the May 8 election in 2018, the ballot included two EMS levies that were passed by the voters. One levy secured funding for the county-wide Ambulance and EMS service. The other levy was for Jefferson Township Ambulance and EMS service at 5 mills.
Jefferson Township is one of 10 townships in Fayette County—located in the northeastern part of the county. It includes Jeffersonville and part of Octa village.
Due to the circumstances, property owners who live in Jefferson Township have been and will continue to be taxed for both EMS services.
As previously reported, the following numbers were supplied via email by Fayette County Auditor Brenda Mossbarger —“On a $100,000 property, all county residents would pay an estimate of $45.50 based on the 1.3 Mill county-wide EMS levy. On a $100,000 property, a Jefferson Township resident would pay an estimate of $175 based on the 5 Mill Jefferson Township EMS levy.”
Mossbarger explained, “therefore on a $100,000 property in Jefferson Township, a resident would pay an estimate of $220.50 based on the total of 6.3 Mills (1.3 Mills — Fayette County EMS Levy and 5 Mills — Jefferson Township EMS Levy).”
These circumstances have led to various back-and-forth conversations between Jefferson Township Trustees and Fayette County Commissioners, proposed lawsuits, legal counsels, alternative propositions, etc.
As previously reported, Jefferson Township Trustees explained they were attempting to give the township what residents wanted, including better EMS response times.
“There never was double taxation,” said Dean. “There are two levies. There’s a county-wide levy for 1.3 mills, and then there’s a levy that was voted in by the people of Jefferson Township that is for 5 Mills. So, if it was double-taxed, then they would be paying 2.6 of our 1.3.”
According to Dean, their legal counsel, Dennis Schwallie (partner at Dinsmore Shohl Company), explained the following: “any property tax levied by a political subdivision must have uniform operation throughout the subdivision. So, Jefferson Township may not be excluded from a county-wide levy by county commissioners, no-matter how much sense it would make to do so. The joint ambulance district may be formed by two or more townships or municipal corporations — not the county commissioners, and that’s pursuant of the Ohio Revised code number 505.71. It would be a separate subdivision then with its own board of trustees, and then they could levy a district-wide tax levy to eventually replace the current county-wide EMS levy.”
“They are paying for both services, and we cannot change that,” said Dean. “Nothing has changed since the last time. No districts have been formed by townships. So, we can’t change anything about a county-wide levy.”
If the levy passes for renewal in November, according to Dean, “it’ll keep allowing the county to have the contract with Fayette (County Memorial) Hospital to operate the EMS service — the EMS service operates at a loss. We also recently purchased a new ambulance for that service. Hopefully, with these funds there will be enough money within that three-year period to continue to pay for the service so it can operate like it does now and possibly one more ambulance can be replaced in that time.”
While the levy will allow for county-wide services, if the levy passes for renewal, the Jefferson Township residents will also continue paying for two EMS services.
To read Ohio Revised Code 505.71 Joint Ambulance District, please go to www.codes.ohio.gov/orc/505.71.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.