Commission tables resolution to put EMS levy on May primary ballot

Published 10:20 am Friday, February 19, 2010

There will not be an emergency services levy on the May primary ballot.

Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens Thursday asked that a resolution to place a 2.5 mil levy before voters be tabled indefinitely, saying the timing was wrong for a levy and there was not likely widespread support for it.

The levy would have brought in approximately $1.8 million that would have been used to supplement ambulance service. Money from the half-cent sales tax that is now used for ambulance service would have been used to better fund the sheriff’s office, among other things.

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Stephens said,while the county’s short-term picture has improved, he is concerned about the long-term prognosis. A levy was one possibility to address the county’s funding problem.

“We need to look at every avenue and every possible solution,” Stephens said. “The problem is still there.”

The other two commissioners agreed.

“We’ve already got a funding source in place for EMS and we recently raised the rates. When you go and talk to farmers and widows and union workers … I haven’t gotten a response where anyone thinks it’s a good thing to do,” Malone said. “We’ve got to look at different funding avenues.” He declined at this time to say what those avenues might be.

Boggs said there were several reasons why he could not support a levy. Boggs said he believes his constituents are against the idea and said he thought in difficult economic times he prefers tax cuts to tax increases.

He said an EMS levy does not address the real problem in the county: The cost of crime.

“There is nothing wrong with the funding for EMS now,” Boggs said. “It’s strong, it’s viable and there’s nothing wrong with it.”

All three commissioners acknowledged putting a levy on the ballot in the primary, especially one that is likely to be unpopular with voters, could hurt the chances of the Collins Career Center levy that is up for renewal this spring.