Ambulance, EMS levy facing township voters

Voters in Bloom and Scipio townships are to decide a levy for ambulance and emergency medical services Nov. 7.

The 1.54-mill levy is an additional tax for the Bloom-Scipio Joint Ambulance District to provide ambulance service, emergency medical service or both for the district, commencing in 2017 and first due next year, according to information from Seneca County Board of Elections.

Bloomville EMS Coordinator Marty Chambers said the levy will be used to pay volunteers for hours on call, training expenses or personal gear not provided by the county, he said.

Seneca County Auditor Julie Adkins said the levy is to generate $139,226 a year and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $53.90 annually.

Chambers said the levy made sense because, by having two townships — including the villages of Republic and Bloomville — vote on the levy together, millage was less than it would be for one township.

The levy was proposed by the Bloom-Scipio Joint Ambulance District Board and is needed primarily for recruiting and retention, Chambers said.

“We can’t do that without giving some sort of recognition,” he said. “We want to keep the people we have, pool our manpower and keep it local exactly like what we have now.”

Seneca County Emergency Medical Services Director Ken Majors said having personnel is the most important thing.

“You can’t put a number on it. We need them,” he said.

Majors said the key is to find what works and model successful behavior of other districts.

“The money never leaves the townships and people can see what it is used for and know it is money well spent,” he said. “They can see their local departments staffed with people they know and know they are helping to support them.”

A majority affirmative vote is necessary for the levy to pass, according to ballot language. Chambers said the levy pools votes from both townships.

Creation of the joint ambulance district and passage of the levy wouldn’t take care of all the staffing problems, but would give the district tools to work on them, Chambers said.

“The levy is important because we want to keep our squads community-based,” he said. “Five years down the road, I want to make sure there are people behind me to take care of me the way I’ve taken care of other people.”