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Lincoln Paramedics Ask For Tax Referendum
In the near future, Logan County voters will be asked to approve a tax referendum. County residents already pay a tax to support local paramedics. It's been in place for the past 30 years. But new technology and the need for equipment pushed the Logan County Paramedic Association to ask for an increase to help with the cost of running the operation.
New high-tech stretchers and heart defibrillators are costing paramedics a pretty penny.
"It's a very valuable piece of equipment, but they are $20,000 a piece," association chief officer Steve Siltman said.
It will cost the Logan County Paramedic Association close to a quarter of a million dollars to purchase a fully-equipped ambulance. They are looking to the community to help keep operations running.
"It costs us about $1.7 million a year to operate this organization," Siltman said. "We operate 24 hours, 365 days a year."
On Tuesday, county board members unanimously voted to allow county residents a chance to say yes or no to a property tax increase. The taxes would go up five cents for every $100 of property.
"In my five terms on the board, I have never heard a complaint about the service from the Logan County Association," Logan County Board Vice Chairman David Hepler said.
The paramedic group has received a tax of almost four cents for every $100 of property for the past 30 years. Now, with rising costs, the association says they cannot run on what they currently take in from the community.
"With the cut backs on Medicaid and Medicare over the years, it's gotten to the point where a Medicaid patient that we pick up, it would actually cost us more than what we would receive from the government," Siltman said.
Other counties use taxes to help support their paramedics. Dewitt County tax payers give 25 cents per $100 of property. McLean County gives 19 cents. Logan County wants to up its tax just 8 cents
"What they do is very honorable and we need to support it," Logan County resident Julene McFarland said.
"They do a fantastic job in this county," Logan County resident Clarence Melton said. "I'd vote for it."
If the referendum is approved, the Logan County Paramedic Association will use the money only for buying equipment. The association uses three ambulances to support the entire county and neighboring cities as well.
Logan County residents will be able to vote on the referendum in April's election.