Henry County considers new tax to pay for ambulance service | News
NEW CASTLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Henry County leaders are weighing the possibility of adding a new tax for residents to offset the rising costs of ambulance service in the county.
The tax increase would come in the form of the creation of a special ambulance taxing district in the rural county northeast of Louisville.
According to Judge-Executive John Logan Brent, the cost of operating the county ambulance service has steadily risen in recent years to the point where it is now some $300,000 more expensive than it used to be.
“Property tax revenue is our primary source of revenue in the general fund. This past year we took in about $900,000 in property tax revenue,” Brent said. “To take $300,000 of that and subsidize EMS service just cannot be done.”
According to Brent, and Fiscal Court Magistrate Scott Bates, the rising costs are due in part to increased drug-related runs that often see no return profit.
“Those have just skyrocketed compared to what we used to have,” Bates said on Wednesday.
In the past year, EMS has made more than 2,894 runs in Henry County. Of those, 343 were drug related and 687 refused treatment, according to data provided by the county. Brent says that means about one third of ambulance runs are seeing no return at all.
The tax would be 6 cents on every $100 of assessed real and tangible property. For instance, if a home has an assessed value of $100,000, that homeowner would be responsible for paying an extra $60 in taxes per year. The tangible tax would apply to things like cars, boats and RVs. It would be at the same rate.
“We went over and over on our budget ,” Bates said. “We’ve looked through it time and time again where we can cut and where we can get this money.”
Bates also cited cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments as a reason for the recent lack of revenue. Brent said he expects the the new tax to generate approximately $500,000 dollars a year.
Typically, the service runs three to four ambulances during the day and one at night. A new tax district would also create a board charged with managing the financials. It would consist of three citizens and two magistrates as appointed by Brent.
“I get that people don’t like taxes however I think most people would say that EMS is probably the most essential service that government provides and unfortunately it’s the most expensive service,” Brent said.
The plan has already been passed by one reading unanimously. It will be voted on again at the fiscal court meeting on Sept. 17.
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