(01/15/2018)
By Bob Weaver

1/9/2018 - The Calhoun Commission is continuing to work toward stabilizing ambulance service for Calhoun, after a private provider discontinued service and Minnie Hamilton Health System said they could no longer provide the service for financial reasons.

A new ambulance authority has been appointed to oversee the service, which will provide one emergency ambulance with 24/7 crew. Minnie Hamilton Health System will continue to provide transports for their facility, said commission president Kevin Helmick.

The commission spent several weeks trying to find a private provider with no success.

The commission has approved an Emergency Services Levy to be voted on in May, which will be increased to $195,000 annually for ambulance service, or $312,296.01 total levy annually for ambulance, fire and police protection.

Passage of the levy would cost county taxpayers a few more dollars each year.

Commissioner Chip Westfall said, "It ($195,000) is the minimum amount to provide one crew 24/7. The levy amounts for fire departments and a deputy sheriff would essentially remain unchanged."

The tax rates on the levy have not been increased since its inception about 25 years ago.

Minnie Hamilton Health System has agreed to temporarily provide the service for $16,000 a month, to be reimbursed by the commission. Commissioner Helmick said the temporary arrangement was made with the assistance of a loan from the Calhoun Banks.

There is about $50,000 in the May levy for a full-time prosecutor, placed as a separate levy item on the May ballot for a voters decision.

Calhoun Clerk Jean Simers said the increases would be little noticed by most county taxpayers, issuing a list of increases for property holders. (See Below)

Commission president Helmick said, "The county just does not have money for these services," indicating it would likely be about two years before the income from a proposed compressor station would kick in.

Commissioner Michael Hicks, who is serving on the new EMS board, said past 911 records indicate that calls requiring two 911 ambulance do not occur often.

"When these situations do arise, they are handled on a case-by-case basis, with mutual aid quickly being provided by neighboring agencies," he said.

Hicks said that the current stationing of the ambulance at Millstone should not be a problem, since it is not far from the center of the county at Mt. Zion.

Commissioner Helmick said, "Many rural counties are subsidized by $500,000 tax funds or levies, sometime even more for ambulance services."

Hicks said, "I feel most would agree that it would be an unwise decision to return to a part-time prosecutor position at a time when violent crimes, abuse and neglect caseloads are steadily increasing."

"We're hopeful the taxpayers will support these services," Helmick concluded.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST YOU (Estimates Calhoun Clerks Office)

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION TAXES:

Taxpayers with Homestead Exemptions, assessed value of $20,000 or less, there would be NO increase in taxes if levy items pass.

ANNUAL NEW LEVY TAXES FOR AMBULANCE SERVICE:

Assessed Value $5,000 - Increase $1.50
Assessed Value $10,000 - Increase $3.00
Assessed Value $15,000 - Increase $4.50
Assessed Value $20,000 - Increase $6.00
Assessed Value $25,000 - Increase $7.50
Assessed Value $30,000 - Increase $9.00
Assessed Value $35,000 - Increase $10.50
Assessed Value $40,000 - Increase $12.00
Assessed Value $45,000 - Increase $13.50
Assessed Value $50,000 - Increase $15.00

ANNUAL NEW LEVY TAXES FOR FULL-TIME PROSECUTOR:

Assessed Value $5,000 - Increase $0.81
Assessed Value $10,000 - Increase $1.62
Assessed Value $15,000 - Increase $2.43
Assessed Value $20,000 - Increase $3.24
Assessed Value $25,000 - Increase $4.05
Assessed Value $30,000 - Increase $4.86
Assessed Value $35,000 - Increase $5.68
Assessed Value $40,000 - Increase $6.48
Assessed Value $45,000 - Increase $7.29
Assessed Value $50,000 - Increase $8.10


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