Renewal levy to support ambulance services

UNION TOWNSHIP — Union Township voters will be asked to renew an ambulance levy at the poll this November.

The Miami Southwest Joint Ambulance District is asking taxpayers for the renewal of a 1.5-mill property tax for ambulance and emergency services in the township. The renewal would be for five years, beginning in 2021 and first due in 2022.

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home approimately $150 per year.

According to Miami Southwest Joint Ambulance District Board President Doug Baker, this is a renewal of a property tax first introduced three years ago to support ambulances services in the township. Baker said funds from the levy will be used to continue to pay staff, and to purchase equipment and supplies and for building expenses. The Miami Southwest Joint Ambulance District does have a 1.0-mill permanent levy in place for emergency services, Baker said, however additional funds are needed.

Baker said the Miami Southwest Joint Ambulance District Board is made up of one member each from Potsdam, Laura, West Milton, Ludlow Falls and person from the township. He said the board was started in 1974 to put a levy on the ballot to help better serve the township with ambulance services. Baker said the board dispenses the levy funds for the services to the contracted entity to perform emergency services to the township, which is currently, and has been for many years, the Union Township Life Squad. Contracts are three years in length, Baker said.

Baker said the renewal is essential to continuing the level of ambulance services in the township. He said so far in 2020 alone there have been 718 ambulance runs.

“We need this renewal because we now have to pay someone to be on duty 24/7, seven days a week for the first-out ambulance, with two people on staff to go out,” Baker said.

Baker said second-out ambulances runs are performed by volunteers. However, he said the amount of volunteers has declined significantly throughout the years.

“If it isn’t passed, the people that are paid would go away, the ones that man the first-out ambulance,” Baker said. “Because of the lack of volunteers, the paid employees are necessary for the safety of the township residents.

“If there were 20-30 volunteers like there used to be, we probably wouldn’t need it, but there are currently only seven to eight,” Baker said.

Baker said he believes township residents are mostly happy with the level of ambulance services that have been provided in recent years, and hopes they receive the votes to continue the same level of service.

“Since I have been on the board we have had very little trouble as far as complaints,” Baker said. “I think people are generally happy with the service. I hope we can keep that up.”