Voters Back Ambulance Tax Hikes in Rural Illinois - @

Voters Back Ambulance Tax Hikes in Rural Illinois


Troy Semple | | Thursday, February 7, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Four rural ambulance services in Illinois will receive much-needed infusions of cash after tax increases to support the agencies were overwhelmingly approved by referendum voters.

Voters in Heyworth, McLean, Hudson and Bloomington Township were asked to support a tax of up to 30 cents per $100 equalized assessed valuation. The owner of a $200,000 home will pay an additional $200 on property tax bills.

With all precincts reporting, the measures in Hudson and McLean received more than 80 percent of the vote, while 76 percent of voters in Heyworth supported the referendum. About 67 percent of Bloomington Township voters approved the tax increase.

The anticipated revenue will enable the ambulance services to hire paid emergency medical technicians.

Without paid EMTs, there would have been no ambulance services in those communities. State law requires that at least two EMTs must be available at all times in order to have a licensed ambulance service.

The money will also help cover other expenses, which in the past have been paid for by billing patients.

Without the tax, three of the four services would likely have ceased altogether, with Bloomington Township able to provide only basic life support on its rescue squad.

The September shutdown of Bloomington-Normal-based Lifeline Mobile Medics prompted a scramble by the rural services to secure funding to continue full-time service.

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