Jackson, Athens owe taxpayers

Published 9:48 am Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lawrence County asked nicely — to no avail — so now it is time to play hardball with Athens and Jackson counties so that our taxpayers get the money that has essentially been stolen from them.

At a special meeting Monday, the Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services board voted 6 to 2 — with the dissenting votes coming from representatives from Athens and Jackson counties — not to reimburse Lawrence County the more than $300,000 it is owed.

This deficit came from the fact that Lawrence County taxpayers were subsidizing the operation of the now-defunct ambulance service for more than three years.

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A report by Auditor of State Dave Yost confirmed what many had long believed.

The board said it did not have the money to pay that obligation, but that argument simply doesn’t hold water.

The ambulance service is still collecting revenue from runs it made in 2010 and would be able to pay Lawrence if Jackson and Athens counties paid SEOEMS the more than $600,000 they owe.

Commissioner Les Boggs said the county will continue to fight for what is owed them and we applaud that effort.

We urge Yost to assist in this process and involve the necessary legal authorities who come into play when audits reveal findings for recovery.

These counties owe it to the Lawrence County taxpayers, as well as their own citizens, to do the right thing.