EMS ballot issue seeks first increase in 15 years

Commissioners and the fire chiefs of the local departments across Fulton County have worked diligently to address concerns in regard to operational efficiencies and the availability of volunteers in an effort to sustain an EMS system that serves all of Fulton County very well.

A two mill renewal plus a two mill addition for Fulton County EMS services will be on the Nov. 3 2015 ballot. This is the first requested increase in 15 years.

The cooperation of all of the entities within Fulton County is what keeps the system functioning at a high level, yet at minimal cost to the local citizens.

Wauseon Fire Chief Rick Sluder states: “The change in standards of our society, the increase in the number of emergency calls, and the transient nature of today’s workforce have all affected our efforts of maintaining and attracting volunteers who have traditionally played a very crucial role in all of the communities of Fulton County.

“Volunteering for the fire and EMS systems is a commitment like no other. You don’t get to pick the time you are available, you have to drop everything and respond immediately. In our society today, this type of commitment does not always mold well with what is expected from us by our families and employers,” he added.

Seventeen years ago this same concern was recognized and an Advisory Group was formed. The group discussed at length many options that may be available in assisting the volunteer system with staffing while also assuring access to ALS for all Fulton County residents. The result was the high quality and efficient EMS service the county citizens have and appreciate today.

“It’s the desire of every fire chief in Fulton County to continue to provide the high quality and efficient EMS service that our citizens deserve and it has never been our ambition to ask for unnecessary additional funding, as has been the case over the past 15 plus years,” Archbold Fire Chief Andy Brodbeck stated. “However, due to increased expenses including labor, health, equipment, and supplies, with most being magnified by more stringent state regulations, we are at a point that additional revenue is necessary in order to continue with the quality EMS services that are being provided today.”

The last time there was an increase was the initial levy ballot nearly 15 years ago. In 2001, an owner of a $100,000 home paid around $70 a year for the EMS levy. If this levy passes, which includes the two mill renewal and two mill addition, taxes paid in 2017 by an owner of a $100,000 home will be around $118 per year. The county and the communities agreed on amounts that would be fiscally responsible for the continued operations and measurably consistent with the increase in costs to operate in the current economy to cover the general increase in costs from 15 years ago.

Commissioner Jeff Rupp explains “As county commissioners we believe this ballot issue establishes the ability to provide the necessary services today, while allowing for the opportunity to expand and grow within Fulton County. It will be up to the residents to decide what levels of service they want.”

“We sincerely appreciate the efforts of Fulton County responders in providing the highest standards of Emergency Medical Services available,” Commissioner Barnaby said. “We need to make sure we are taking care of the people of Fulton County.”