Ambulance levy failure means likely cutback in services
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ST. ANTHONY — The failure of an ambulance district levy likely means there could be a cutback in services the ambulance district provides.
The Fremont County Ambulance District $410,000 override levy needed 66 percent of the vote to pass. It only got 53 percent.
The district hoped voters would approve a permanent property tax levy that would have raised some $410,000 per year to pay for ambulance operations. The current property tax levy going to the ambulance district was set in 1996.
If the new levy had passed, it would have replaced the old one and raised the amount of money the ambulance district receives from property taxes to around $750,000 per year, according to the Fremont County Clerk’s Office.
“We obviously needed the funds, or we wouldn’t have been asking for it,” Fremont County EMS Director Bert Mecham told EastIdahoNews.com. “Now, it’s trying to figure out what we can do and still give the best service possible.”
Mecham said he is going to meet with the Fremont County Commissioners, who also serve as the ambulance board for the district, to figure out what the next steps are.
“It’s really up in the air right now,” Mecham said. “But if you can’t pay for the services that you’re giving, then obviously you have to cut somewhere.”
He said those cuts could come from the services the ambulance district provides and keeping their equipment up to date. One area that he said will mostly be cut is the number of trainings the district’s EMS personnel can attend.
“We help people out in their worst times. Most people don’t want to have to call the ambulance, but when they do, they’re glad that we come,” Mecham said. “What I’m afraid of is that when we come and we aren’t able to provide the services that we used to, then people will be upset by that.”
He said they are also going to try and find ways to bring in more funds so cuts won’t be too drastic, meaning the levy could be put up for another vote at a lower rate and with a two-year time period.
“Let’s regroup, figure out what the best plan is moving forward to provide the best services that we can with the hand that we’ve been dealt.”