Marthasville Community Ambulance Chief Ann Cleavelin said if voters approve a 10-cent property tax increase, the ambulance district will use the funds to purchase one new ambulance and do major upgrades on another.
The money also would be used to replace aging equipment and fund day-to-day operations.
The district currently operates two ambulances, which could cost upward of $100,000 to $200,000 to replace, district officials said. The older of the two vehicles is from 1993 and needs to be replaced, Cleavelin said.
The newer of the two ambulances is about a decade old. The plan for that truck is to replace the vehicle frame, but keep the “box” currently on the back of the truck.
Cleavelin said the district is mindful of how it spends taxpayers’ money, and was reluctant to ask for more funding. But, she explained that inflation and rising prices are creating a challenge.
“We really don’t want to have to do it. Me being a taxpayer, I don’t want to pay more taxes,” she said. “But it is something that needs to be done.”
Equipment purchases on the ambulance district’s radar include replacing an auto pulse machine that is more than a decade old, she said. The machine does automatic chest compressions for patients in cardiac arrest, and could cost $35,000 to replace.
Another purchase Cleavelin mentioned is an automatic lifter that helps get patients on stretchers into an ambulance. That would decrease the risk of back and knee injuries for paramedics and lower related medical costs long term, she explained.
If voters don’t approve the tax increase, the ambulance district could still cover some of the costs for vehicles and equipment, but it would deplete the district’s reserve funding, Cleavelin said.
That would leave the district in a difficult position if another major expense appears unexpectedly, she said.
“Whatever the taxpayers decide to do, we always appreciate their service, and we really enjoy what we do for them,” Cleavelin said.
The last tax increase for the ambulance district was in 1998, when voters approved an increase from 16 cents to 30 cents per $100 valuation, according to information from the district’s board of directors.
The district’s current tax rate is actually a little lower than that approved amount at 29.62 cents.
When that tax rate was approved in 1998, the ambulance district ran 137 calls in a year. In 2000, the district had two full-time personnel.
In 2017, ambulance staff ran 413 calls — triple the amount from 20 years ago. There are now five full-time and 18 part-time personnel covering 24-hour emergency medical service, directors said.
Property taxes and ambulance service fees haven’t kept up with the rising operational costs and inflation in the price of equipment, directors said. On top of that, decreases in payments from Medicare and insurance carriers, along with an aging population in the area, have led to decreased revenues, they added.
The board of directors believes that without additional tax funding, the district won’t be able to maintain its current staffing or coverage.
The 10-cent tax increase will be on the election ballot in April for voters in southern Warren County.
Taxes for residential property is assessed at 19 percent of actual appraised value, so the owner of a $100,000 home in the district would expect a tax increase of $19 per year.
The ambulance district’s boundary includes most of Warren County south of Highway CC.