Commission pushes EMS levy

Published 12:07 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

‘BEST’ campaign kicked off in county

For the past several weeks, the Lawrence County Commission has been pushing for the passage of the county EMS levy, which will be on the November ballot countywide.

The 2-mill levy will bring Lawrence County EMS a protected revenue source instead of its current system of being split between EMS, county 911 and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

The need for an EMS levy stems largely from the fact that Ohio is set to lose its Medicaid sales tax this year, which account for 21,554 people on Medicaid in Lawrence County as of June 30 this year. Sales tax in Lawrence County is 1.5 percent, and makes up about 60 percent of the county’s budget.

Commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr. said that although he is always against taxes, and runs politically as such, he is not against safety, which would be greatly reduced if the EMS levy fails in November.

“I can’t stress the EMS levy enough that this is a yes or no vote,” he said. “It’s either yes, we’re going to have EMS or no we’re not going to have EMS. That’s where we’re at right now. It’s going to be a serious concern if we don’t get this passed.”

Commissioner DeAnna Holliday agreed, and said if the levy is not passed, county EMS will be significantly reduced and will not operate at the same level it currently is, if at all.

Lawrence County EMS has proven to be one of the top EMS agencies in the nation, claiming the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus Award earlier this year for its implementing of quality improvements measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. Only one percent of EMS agencies nationwide receive the Gold Plus status of the award.

At the commission meeting Tuesday, commission also mentioned the upcoming EMS station project at the fairgrounds, which is also set to include a senior and community center.

The money for the new EMS station is from the Lawrence County Port Authority, while the money for the senior and community center would come from grants.

Commissioners Hayes and Bill Pratt said that the county has come under fire from some people recently for being able to have money for this project, but not being able to for a jail move or a new jail. However, they said that funding for different things comes from different places and has to be very specific.

“Just because we weren’t able to do anything with the jail doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to try to get funding for other things,” Pratt said.

Regarding the jail, Hayes said the county is still very concerned about the jail situation, and having a plan for a new jail is a must.

“I’d like to start the process on forming a committee to start making plans on a jail,” he said.

Dave Lucas, county communications director, also announced the county’s BEST campaign, to get people to buy in Lawrence County in order to keep the sales tax in the county.

BEST stands for Buy Lawrence, Enjoy Lawrence, Shop Lawrence and Taste Lawrence. Lucas and commission both said the campaign has been well received so far.