Ill. EMS to make case for tax levy to citizens

The emergency service first needs to go to the villages and towns in areas that would be impacted by a levy to get consensus about the need, according to the county board chairman


Marco Cartolano
Jacksonville Journal-Courier, Ill.

WINCHESTER, Ill. — After county commissioners unanimously approved the first step toward establishing a tax levy to fund Winchester EMS, the agency now will explain the need for funding to the community.

“Now it’s on their lap to do the homework of reaching out to people,” Scott County Board Chairman Bob Schafer said about the next steps the emergency medical service must take to create a tax on property owners that would help pay for services.

Randy Dolen, EMS Winchester board president, said the agency needed to communicate the facts about why funding is needed. (Winchester EMS)
Randy Dolen, EMS Winchester board president, said the agency needed to communicate the facts about why funding is needed. (Winchester EMS)

Schafer said the process still is in its beginning phases and the county board will send notices to property owners in the affected area and set up a public hearing to gather feedback. However, Schafer also said the emergency service first needs to go to the villages and towns in areas that would be impacted by a levy to get consensus about the need.

Randy Dolen, EMS Winchester board president, said the agency needed to communicate the facts about why funding is needed.

Dolen said the major issue is staffing — a problem for emergency medical services both paid and volunteer in other counties. Most of the staff are volunteers and a handful are old enough that they need to do less.

The ambulance service has relied on donations, fees for calls, and fundraisers since it was established in 1973. The service has averaged from 80 to 100 calls a year since its inception.

The staffing issue also has taken a toll on the volunteer force, Dolen said.

“We don’t get to have lives. I have had to fight to get one night off,” he said.

The ability of the county’s emergency services to rapidly respond to life-threatening situations will be diminished without the tax, Dolen said.

“We want people to support this so we can do what we’re doing here on time,” Dolen said.

A slow response time could mean the difference between life and death, he said.

“It’s in the community’s hands,” Dolen said. “They can support this and keep the service that they have or we don’t do this and we’re not sure if we’ll have an ambulance for 24-hour service, seven days a week.”

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©2019 the Jacksonville Journal-Courier (Jacksonville, Ill.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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