$400,000 ambulance levy fails in Fremont County
ST. ANTHONY – A proposed levy for the Fremont County ambulance district was not approved by voters during Tuesday’s election.
The levy, which required a two-thirds supermajority to pass, only had 57% approval from voters or 2,280 total votes. Forty-three percent voted against it, which totaled 1,752 votes. The measure would’ve added another $400,000 to the current two-year $250,000 levy, which expires sometime next year.
Fremont County EMS Director Bert Mecham tells EastIdahoNews.com the levy’s failure means the county’s 60-person skeleton crew will continue to be stretched thin going forward.
“We have a handful of individuals that are very dedicated to the county that run a lot of our calls, and they’re tired,” Mecham says. “There are multiple open shifts in our current schedule, so without the extra funds to bring on full-time staff, those holes will continue to exist and we’ll have to fill them in the best we can.”
A portion of the county’s emergency response team is part-time and not all of them respond to calls consistently. About 20 people out of the 60 run multiple shifts every week, says Mecham.
The two-year $250,000 levy allowed the ambulance district to purchase two new ambulances and new equipment for paramedics.
“We got some coats and things like that they can use while they’re on call. We were able to bring in some additional equipment for the ambulances as well,” Mecham explains.
Fremont County saw a spike in 911 calls during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and Mecham says there’s been a steady increase of about 100 calls a year for the last four years. Mecham says the main reason for the increase in calls is due to growth in the county.
Mecham is grateful for the “amazing,” “dedicated” emergency response team and praises their efforts. While he understands how tired and overworked they are, he hopes the levy’s failure doesn’t discourage them and cause them to leave.
“I know how hard everyone works, so it’s difficult for me to not feel as supported as I’d like. It is nice to know that over 50% of the (voters) in the county do support us financially or are willing to support us financially. I just wish it was a little more,” he says.
Mecham says they’ve explored other options to raise funds for the ambulance district, but a levy is the only “viable way” to cover those costs. He anticipates another levy being put on the ballot in the future and he hopes voters will support it.