According to a sample ballot produced by the Athens County Board of Elections, the levy would provide, “an additional tax for the benefit of Athens County for operation and maintenance of emergency medical services.”
Athens County Auditor Jill Davidson said the levy would support funds for ambulance and emergency medical services.
Davidson estimated if the levy passes, ACEMS will receive $1,913,870 in additional tax revenue.
Rick Trask, a paramedic at ACEMS and president of the ACEMS International Association of Fire Fighters Local #5126, said any money collected from the levy would go into an account at the auditor’s office and would be earmarked to be used only for ACEMS services.
Trask said ACEMS is at a point in its budget where if the levy fails, it could potentially have to shut down trucks and possibly an entire station in a year.
“Right now we have two trucks in Athens every day, we got one truck in Coolville, Glouster, Nelsonville and Albany, and there’s a good chance that they would have to decide to shut one of those stations down; an Athens truck would have to pick up the slack, which then makes the Athens trucks not available for runs,” Trask said.
Trask said the levy was proposed as a joint effort between the ACEMS management and union upon the realization that the budget was too small due to the rising cost of supplies and insurance reimbursements.
“We have to use glucagon, that’s an intermuscular injection,” Trask said. “That medication alone is over $250 for one dose.”
ACEMS Chief Amber Pyle said the levy would be used for daily operations.
“The cost of medical supplies and all of that has almost tripled, and the money we bring in has stayed stagnant,” Pyle said.
Trask said the money from the levy would be used to cover whatever was needed, including trucks, buildings, insurance and wages.
The wage scale at ACEMS is far behind other emergency and medical services, Trask said.
“I make $17.96 an hour as a paramedic with 32 years of experience,” Trask said. “That’s atrocious. Now, does the county offer me good benefits? Yes, yes (it does). The insurance we have is really good, but it is not better than anyone else.”
Pyle said money from the levy will be used to raise base pay for paramedics.
“It costs most to run your own household and we’ve got to try to bring (wages) up to make it worth people’s while to stay or even come here,” Pyle said.
Davidson said the tax is collected through real property tax collection and distributed after the tax collection is settled in two payments: first half tax settlement and second half tax settlement.
The first half is generally distributed in March, and the second half is in August, but it depends on when the county treasurer certifies the collection, Davidson said.
Pyle said if the levy fails, it will be put on the ballot a second time, but an ACEMS levy has never failed in Athens County.