Letter: Vote to ensure quality ambulance service remains
October 23, 2014
Let's face it, nobody want to call 911 for a ambulance; it usually means a family member, friend or stranger is in distress. If you had to make that call today, you would receive a well-equipped, state-of-the-art ambulance that is well-maintained and staffed with well-trained paramedics and EMTs that suits our high community standard. Even after the call is made and the ambulance leaves, most people don't know what it takes to sustain this valuable service. Who provides the service? Who pays? And where does the money go?
Created in 1982 by the Pitkin County Home Rule Charter as a special district, the original mill levy was 0.82 mills. It has dropped over time, to today's 0.22 mills. Today the Ambulance District can collect only 0.22 mills as a result of revenue limitations in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and the Fenton Amendment of Pitkin County's Home Rule Charter. Formed in 1982, the Aspen Ambulance District was funded by a property tax mill levy of 0.82 mills. Over the years, Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights laws and our own, local Fenton Amendment, have worked to reduce the actual mill levy collected to only 0.22 mills. Residents in the Aspen Ambulance District currently pay less than $4 per $100,000 of assessed property value for this vitally important service.
When residents and visitors are in need, our community is used to a high level professional response from fire, police, sheriff and ambulance. With the current mill levy of 0.22, the current level of ambulance service will not be sustainable for future years, a much needed ambulance barn will not be built, ambulances will not be replaced to keep up with industry and community standards and staff training needs will not be met. This means the level of care and response could be in jeopardy.
A yes vote on 1A will increase the mill levy from 0.22 mills to 0.501 mills and cost the property owner just over $6 per $100,000 of assessed residential property value. For example: A $2 million residential property owner will pay approximately $124 per year to support this service.
This is a service we pay for and hope we never need. However, just like any other emergency service, when you call you expect and deserve the highest standard and professional response. A yes vote on 1A wise secure the ambulance district's future and continued level of service for years to come.
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