Informational meeting set for ambulance service district

A meeting to discuss the proposed formation of an ambulance service district for Lewis County has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the courthouse.

Emergency Management Director Dennis Brown says the meeting will allow local officials to provide information on the proposal and allow those in attendance to ask questions.

“There is a lot of misinformation floating around and we would like to be able to get the correct information out there and answer any questions,” he stated.

Attempts to move a proposed county ordinance to create an ambulance service district for the county past the first reading have so far been unsuccessful.

During a special session of fiscal court on June 23, County Attorney Benjamin Harrison gave a first reading of the proposed ordinance to create an Ambulance Service District with Judge Executive Craig Stanfield making a motion to accept the first reading. The motion died on the floor for lack of a second.

The move came after several citizens spoke in favor of the creation of the district to ensure continued emergency transport service in the county.

The proposed ordinance, if ultimately adopted, would have created a five-member board which would, in turn, control and manage the affairs of the district, including setting the district’s tax rate which could not exceed 10 cents per $100 valuation of property.

Stanfield said the creation of the district would be the first step in establishing a county operated service. He added it would be up to the district tax board to determine how the collected taxes would best be spent in providing emergency transport service in the county.

Stanfield said funds generated from the tax could only be utilized for that purpose.

Members of the board would be appointed by the judge executive with approval of fiscal court. Terms would be for two years.

Proposed ambulance service district ordinance

The county is currently under contract with Portsmouth Ambulance to provide service to the county for $16,000 per month and will continue until May 2023 unless it is terminated earlier. Either party may terminate the contract with 30 days notice.

Stanfield said the contract was negotiated as a short-term solution after Portsmouth Ambulance officials notified the county on February 24 of their intent to close the Lewis County hub within 30 days because they were losing money.

Funding for the one-year contract was allocated from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money received by the county.

Contract with Portsmouth Ambulance

Brown said the contract was crafted and negotiated to allow time for the county to explore options and arrange funding for long-term solutions while maintaining ambulance service in the county.

He said several other Kentucky communities have faced the same scenario over the past few years.

At an earlier meeting, Swearingen had asked County Attorney Benjamin Harrison to review other options for creating a taxing district.

Harrison explained an option in which a petition, signed by 25 percent of the registered voters in the district and voting in the last four general elections, could be presented to fiscal court to begin the process to create a taxing district.

Procedures for creating taxing district

Stanfield said the window for having the tax placed on property tax bills this year is short and the PVA office would need to be notified by August. If that deadline isn’t met, the tax wouldn’t begin to be collected until the fall of 2023.

The informational meeting with local officials is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Thursday (July 7) on the third floor of the Lewis County Courthouse.

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