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Mill levy increase needed to fund purchase of ambulances

| October 20, 2006 12:00 AM

To the Editor:

We are members of the Lincoln County Ambulance Board and want to let you know that we will be asking for your support at the ballots in the November election.

You are going to be asked to vote on a 2-mill levy increase when you go to the polls. This money would be used specifically for the purchase of new ambulances for use in the county, and we want to pass along some information on why this is necessary.

The Lincoln County Ambulance Board represents the ambulance services in the county, all of which are volunteer ambulance services. Members donate their time and expertise to provide a service to our community.

However, volunteer services does not mean there are no costs. Our funding, for operating and maintenance expenses comes from paid runs, donations, fundraisers, and some county tax dollars.

Currently, we receive 1 mill of county tax dollars to purchase new ambulances countywide. One mill is worth $25,000 for the 2006 tax year. Under the current system, the three ambulance services in Eureka, Libby and Troy share the "pot" on a rotating basis to purchase new or newer ambulances.

New ambulances cost a minimum of $110,000 now, meaning it would take four to five years for one service to get enough money to purchase a new ambulance.

Currently, the services' combined mileage has gone up to over 100,000 miles per year. With an increase in number of calls, the long distance of transports, the increase of people moving further away from town centers, rough roads, long idle time on scene, false runs or non-transport runs, and extreme weather conditions, 12 to 15 years is a long time to wait for a new ambulance.

The Lincoln County Ambulance Board has not asked the taxpayers for a mill levy increase in 14 years. During that time, our volume of runs has increased over 75 percent.

The Lincoln County commissioners passed Resolution No. 744 on Aug. 16 in support of our request for a 2-mill increase. We are asking for your support on this matter on Nov. 7 at the polls.

Coral Cummings, our current county clerk and recorder, calculated the cost to taxpayers of a 2-mill increase based on home valuations. On a home with a valuation of $100,000, the increase would be approximately $4.27 per year. On a home with a $200,000 valuation, the increase would be about $8.54 per year.

Basically, for every $50,000 in taxable home valuation, the tax increase would amount to about $2.14 per year.

We sincerely hope you understand our need for this additional money; and, that you find this tax increase to be justifiable. We hope you will support our request when you go to the polls in November.

Thank you, and if need be, contact your local ambulance officials listed below.

Pat Shira

Charles McFarland

Craig Schultz

Nancy Wagner

Dick Wernham

Shelly Treece

Sue Gillen