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Sebastian County EMS User Fee Increase

Current Fee: $18
Proposed Fee: $43
Election Date: Nov. 4, 2014

Ballot Title: SEBASTIAN COUNTY EMS ORDINANCE NO. 2014-11

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ORDINANCE NO. 85-39, ESTABLISHING A SERVICE CHARGE FOR PROVIDING AMBULANCE EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES, TO PROVIDE FOR AN INCREASE IN THE AMBULANCE EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES CHARGE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

FOR increasing the existing Emergency Medical Service Charge of $18 per year in order to provide for ambulance emergency medical services to $43 per year to be collected on the 2014 personal property tax statements in 2015

AGAINST increasing the existing Emergency Medical Service Charge of $18 in order to provide ambulance emergency medical services to $43 per year to be collected on the 2014 personal property tax statements in 2015.

What is being proposed?

The proposed ordinance would increase an existing $18-a-year emergency ambulance service fee that county residents who live outside of Fort Smith and Barling pay on their personal property tax bills to $43 a year.

Why is the issue on the ballot?

Under state law, the Sebastian County Quorum Court has the authority to set a fee to cover the cost of providing emergency medical services. Voters in 1986 approved setting an $18 fee for ambulance services. The cost to provide ambulance services in the county is more than the fee and patient payments cover. County officials are seeking to increase the fee to offset higher costs and expanded services that have occurred since 1986, and have referred the issue to voters to decide.

General Questions

Would the ordinance change who pays the ambulance service fee?

No. The fee would continue to appear on personal property tax bills of individuals living in unincorporated areas of Sebastian County, and the cities of Central City, Mansfield, Hartford, Lavaca, Greenwood, Bonanza, Hackett, Huntington and Midland. Cars, boats, livestock, motorcycles and recreational vehicles are examples of personal property for which people receive tax bills.

How are emergency medical services paid for now?

According to county officials, the county operates two ambulances that are staffed 24 hours a day. The County has 14 paramedics and two ambulances, an increase from six basic emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and one ambulance in 1986. In addition to the $18 annual fee, the county uses patient fees from ambulance calls and money from the county’s general fund to cover the cost of ambulance services in Sebastian County.

Doesn’t health insurance cover the cost of ambulance services?

Health insurance and private payments cover approximately 36% of the cost for paramedics, ambulances, buildings and equipment necessary to make the service available.

What does it currently cost to provide the county ambulance service?

The 2014 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) budget is $1,370,452. This includes $250,000 revenue from the current $18 ambulance fee; $500,000 from billing for services; and $620,452 from the county general revenue fund.

Will this fee replace what people pay for using ambulance services?

No. Patients will continue to be responsible for charges related to service calls. The increased fee will help cover other costs associated with maintaining EMS service in Sebastian County.

If the ordinance passes, would the county continue to pay for ambulance services?

Yes. The proposed ambulance fee and user fees from service calls will not cover the full cost of providing EMS service.  All funds from the ambulance user fee are only used to support ambulance operations.

How much revenue would the fee generate?

The existing $18 fee currently produces $250,000 a year of the emergency medical service’s $1.3 million budget. If the fee is increased to $43, it would generate an estimated $600,000 or $350,000 more a year than it does now for the county’s emergency medical service.

If passed, when would the increased fee appear on my tax bill?

The higher fee would first appear on the 2014 personal property tax bill, which is mailed to property owners in 2015.

What would happen if the increased fee does not pass?

The existing $18 emergency medical service fee would not change and would remain in place. The county would continue to provide emergency medical services as best as available funding will allow within its existing revenue.  Passage will allow for stabilization of the EMS budget.

The Committee for Sebastian County EMS asks for your support of Sebastian County EMS by voting for the $25 increase in Emergency Medical Service Charge.

(Paid for by the Committee for Sebastian County EMS)

 

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