The official count is in and Adams County voters passed a 1.2-mill tax levy to benefit the county’s 911 system. According to the Adams County Board of Election, 2,282 residents voted for the tax increase and 2,263 residents voted against. It passed by one of the slimmest margins of any emergency medical levy in modern history.
According to the Board of Commissioners, property owners will be assessed at a rate of $.12 (twelve cents) per $100.00 valuation, if the levy is approved by voters. For a homeowner with a $100,000 property, the tax increase is approximately $120.00 per year.
The tax levy read “An additional tax for the benefit of Adams County for the purpose of providing for the operation of a 9-1-1 system at a rate not exceeding one and two tenths (1.2) mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to twelve cents ($0.12) for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for (5) years, commencing in 2019, first due in calendar year 2020.
The decision to place the levy on the November ballot, according to the Commissioners, was the result of a recommendation made by the Auditor of State’s office to correct the provision of the 911 dispatch operations being paid from the county EMS levy. For many years, County Commissioners have used money from the EMS levy to fund the dispatch center, and while it was permissible, state auditors wanted the levy language to specify in the levy that the funds were also being used to pay for dispatch services.
Earlier this year, the Board of Commissioners convened the Adams County 911 Technical Advisory Committee to assign a funding source for 911 operations. Ohio law allows for two separate funding options, including a “parcel tax.” A parcel tax would apply to property owners that have improvements (buildings) on their land. The second
“The Adams County Board of Commissioners had the task of finding a revenue stream for providing 911 Dispatch services,” said Commissioners Diane Ward, Ty Pell, and Barbara Moore. “This new revenue source is needed in order to maintain the current operating standards of 911 Dispatch.”
In a news release, Commissioners pointed out that while Ohio law allows for the county general fund to pay or 911 services, the county does not have the financial standing to do so. “Since the loss of nearly $250 million in property values as a result of the recent Dayton Power and Light Stuart and Killen stations coal-fired power plant closures and elimination of the Medicaid Sales Tax, utilizing county general fund revenues was not an option,” the Commissioners said in a news release.
In July, the Informer conducted an independent review of the county EMS and 911 accounts and found increased costs for EMS over the past few years. For example, in 2014, $475,000 was budgeted for salaries of EMS personnel. In 2018, the county budgeted $734,000 , a $259,000 increase in four years.
The biggest increase in spending came in 2017, when Matthew Carey was hired by the Commissioners to be EMS Director.