A renewal of a tax levy to partially fund Athens County’s emergency medical services passed with 7,744 votes, or 75.56% of ballots cast, during Tuesday’s election.
The levy is brought forward for voting every five years in order to give voters a chance to continually improve its use, Rick Callebs, Athens County EMS chief, said. The particular levy is one of three used to fund EMS services.
The funds from it are used to pay for the operating costs of ambulances, EMS buildings and staff salaries.
“The EMS system in Athens County is funded — about 50% of it, maybe a little bit more, 50 to 55%, let’s say — is funded by what we get off of those three property tax levies,” Callebs said. “The other half of what we get, as far as revenue, comes from patient billing. And that's about 45 to maybe 50% of our total operating budget every year. Dividing it up and having about half of it paid for with property taxes and the other half paid for with EMS billing, the property owners are not on the hook for 100% of the bill.”
Callebs emphasized that not all EMS calls are billable, however, which increases the importance of tax-based revenue. Calls in which EMS respond but no service is needed or calls involving EMS standing by during police operations are unbillable.