The Lake-County NewsSun has an article about the Antioch Fire Department seeking a tax levy for EMS.
Facing a budget shortfall of almost $800,000 for emergency medical services, Antioch village officials will ask voters to approve a 25-cent tax levy in November.
Last month, Antioch Township officials also agreed to put the same referendum question to unincorporated Antioch voters. If approved, the levy would increase taxes paid by the owner of a home with a fair market value $140,000 by $101.67 annually and of a home valued at $225,000 by $172.50, said Village Administrator James Keim. Keim said authorizing a tax levy to make up the reimbursement shortfall for ambulance service is a necessary step in improving emergency medical services for Antioch, which until last year were provided by the not-for-profit Antioch Rescue Squad.
While the Antioch Fire Department serves both village and township, ambulance services have been contracted separately for the village and the unincorporated area. The First Fire District, which severs its contract with ARS next month, oversees the unincorporated area of Antioch.
Beginning in May, the village and township will work together and coordinate both fire and ambulance services under the direction of Fire Chief John Nixon.
The levy, which Fire Chief John Nixon considers a key factor in the success of the joint venture, would provide an estimated $1.6 million for EMS services for the village and township. “The purpose of the referendum is to find a stable funding source for ambulance services for the village and First Fire District,” said Nixon.
Nixon pointed out ARS was not providing free service during its 72-year history with the village. “After insurance revenue was collected, ARS still had their own costs of equipment and personnel paid for by benefactors and donations, but that is a unsustainable model today,” said Nixon, explaining that Antioch was one of the last communities in Lake County to rely on a volunteer rescue squad. “Every other community levies taxes to pay for fire and rescue services. We are a little behind the eight-ball in that process. I know these are tough times, but we have to stabilize our revenue to provide services without going into debt.”
“The success of this referendum is highly significant for the well being of our life safety services,” said Keim, explaining that even when ambulance service was provided by Antioch Rescue Squad, the service was partially funded by tax dollars.
“There is a misconception that tax money hasn’t been involved or that the ARS provided a free service,” said Keim. “The reality is that if people want high quality EMS services, there has to be a sustainable way to pay for it. Most communities have already taken the route of a tax levy which provides a solid basis for funding and takes EMS services out of the competition for general tax dollars.”