For the cost of one pastry every month, residents can help the Fremont County Ambulance District provide two newer ambulances and also help cover the district’s ever-increasing costs.
“It’s the cost of doughnut. If your home appraises for $100,000, it would be $1.07 a month,” said the district’s EMS Director Bert Mecham.
The district is requesting a $250,000 a year, two-year levy. The district is giving residents a chance to vote on the issue Tuesday, May 18. Should the levy pass, the district would start receiving the first $250,000 in 2022 with the remaining $250,000 the year following for a total of $500,000.
Mecham reported that the district’s current budget has gone up minimally since 1996 when it was first established. For several years, every year, the district receives $260,000 from the county. To defray additional costs, the district relies on $250,000 in Payment in Lieu of Taxes money to help cover expenses. Yet, that PILT money isn’t always available thus the need for a levy that would be guaranteed, he said.
“PILT is not always available, and we’re hoping this levy will replace those funds we’re using to make our budget function,” Mecham said.
In addition to PILT funds, the district relies on funds generated from EMT and CPR classes it provides to residents. Money earned from taking patients to hospitals also helps, he said.
“The majority of money comes from transporting patients,” Mecham said.
To continue transporting those patients effectively, the district hopes to use levy money to buy two new ambulances at a cost $178,000 each. The district would also like to purchase $40,000 loading systems for the ambulances.
“That will cut down on labor and back pain and claims from our providers. It just helps get the gurney in and out of the ambulance,” he said.
While the district’s current ambulances are still useable, they are between 14 and 16 years old. Should the levy pass, the district would sell those ambulances and use the money generated to help cover the cost of new ambulances as well as other needed equipment.
The levy money would also help cover building and equipment maintenance expenses. It would cover operational expenses, personnel costs, higher education and training requirements of EMTs.
This will be the third time that the district has requested a levy since 2018. It previously asked for and failed to receive a permanent levy of $450,000 a year. After voters rejected those levies, the district instituted different procedures in how it charges for its services to help make up for lost funding. That resulted in a $150,000 savings but not enough to cover all expenses, Mecham said.
“We’re still falling short $250,000,” he said.
The district’s administrative assistant, Kena Ricks, says that one of the biggest challenges the district faces is the every increasing cost of medical supplies.
“The PILT money will not always be there. It’s a matter of being able to run year to year and not being dependent on PILT,” she said of the levy.
Fremont County Commissioner Scott Kamachi said the commissioners support the levy and understand the ambulance district is short on funds.
“We try to repair and make due, repair and make due, as much as we can,” he said. “There comes a point when we lose the ability to keep up with it. We just literally have to upgrade. We’re at that point now with the ambulance district where we need to upgrade and get our equipment back up to standards they need to be.”
While the EMT district’s equipment is still useable, it’s getting to the point where it will not be as reliable as it has been, Kamachi said.
“We’re right at that edge, but if we want to continue to provide excellent service in a reasonable, professional manner, we’re going to need to upgrade,” he said.
Should the levy not pass, the ambulance district will have to rely on precarious PILT funds.
“If we don’t get the levy, we’ll hope that PILT funds are still available,” Mecham said.
For more information on the upcoming levy call 208-624-7557.