W hen voters go to the polls next Tuesday in Hancock County Illinois, one of the issues they will be voting on is whether or not to increase the tax levy for the Hancock County Ambulance Service.
Right now, the current levy is $.10 per $100 of assessed valuation. The question on the ballot will ask voters if they would like to see the levy increase to $.25 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The issue of increasing the tax levy came up when the county board earlier this year was discussing the issue of possibly privatizing the county ambulance service.
Right now, the tax levy generates about $170,000 a year. The annual budget for the ambulance service is right at $600,000 according to County Board Chairman David Walker.
He said the current budget is balanced and that there is about $800,000 in the bank for cash reserves.
"No matter what happens next Tuesday, there is still going to be ambulance service in the county," Walker said.
Walker went onto say that when numbers were being considered for taking the service private, it would have cost nearly a million dollars a year. With the current tax levy and revenue generated from ambulance runs, that would have left a deficit in the budget according to Walker. He said to make up the difference, the board would have had to tap into the reserves and that would have run dry in a few years.
But Walker said the talk about privatizing the service has ended and the board has decided to keep the service the way it is.
Right now, there are ambulances based in Carthage and in Warsaw.
In Carthage, the service is manned by paramedics 24/7 and is considered an Advanced Life Support(ALS) system. In Warsaw, the ambulance service is manned by a staff of full time volunteers who respond when paged out. That system is a Basic Life Support (BLS) system and it also manned 24/7.
"We have a balanced budget and cash reserves, the people of Hancock County need to decide how they want to vote," Walker said.
The measure needs a simple majority to pass.