Ohio voters OK more money for ambulance district
A new voter-approved levy will generate about $300,000 annually to help the district deal with an increase in call volume
Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio
GENEVA, Ohio — Voters in the Northwest Ambulance District approved a new levy Tuesday that will generate about $300,000 annually to help the district deal with an increase in call volume over the last five years.
The additional five year, 1.25-mill levy passed with 1,100 people voting for the levy and 970 voting against, according to the unofficial results from the Ashtabula County Board of Elections.
"That's great. I am very happy. We were cautiously optimistic," said Bob Russell, board chairman. "There were a lot of levies on the ballot and we know it's tough for people to come up with extra money. We appreciate it."
The ambulance district's existing levies generate about $1 million, but a half-mill levy will expire later this year.
The five-year levy will raise almost $300,000 per year for ambulance services, Russell said.
The levy will cost the owner of a house valued at $100,000 about $35 per year — factoring in the expiration of the half-mill levy.
There is a need for additional money because of the increase in calls, payroll, medication and more supplies, Russell said.
“We don’t plan on hiring any more people, but if calls increase, payroll increases,” he said.
Adding to the cost of running the ambulance service, which has existed since 1975, is the price of gasoline is going up, he said.
In 2014, Northwest Ambulance received 2,400 calls, and in 2018 it had increased to 3,100.
A rise in drug overdoses make up a small percentage of the increase, but Russell has said he doesn’t believe that’s the reason calls have gone up.
“Ambulance services are a quality of life issue," he said. "We believe we provide an excellent service and we want to continue to be able to provide that service.”
The district’s annual $1.4 million budget is funded 75 percent by levies from residents in the city of Geneva and Geneva, Harpersfield, Austinburg and Trumbull townships — the 100-mile area covered by the district — and 25 percent by billing patients.
Many patients are on Medicaid and Medicare and what they pay doesn’t come close to the true cost, Russell has said.
The Northwest Ambulance District employs seven full-time paramedics and 29 auxiliary members. The station is manned 24 hours per day, seven days per week, all year long.
The district’s station and business office is at 1480 S. Broadway, near the geographic center of the district. They transport patients to University Hospital Geneva Medical Center, Ashtabula County Medical Center and University Hospital Conneaut Medical Center.
©2019 the Star Beacon (Ashtabula, Ohio)