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GCFD 7 EMS levy on ballot

by REBECCA PETTINGILL
Staff Writer | November 2, 2022 5:37 PM

SOAP LAKE - Grant County Fire District 7 Proposition No. 1 is a six-year EMS levy that will go to fund the department’s EMS program.

“Every penny of our budget has and will always go back to the people in service whether that service is the fire side or EMS side,” said GCFD7 Fire Chief Viktor Bragar. “And for us to be able to support them to our best ability, we need to be able to have the funds for it.”

The levy rate is .25 per $1,000 of assessed property value, he said.

“It was us going with the bare minimum of what we could ask for to not burden the citizens of the community,” said Bragar.

The tax bill comes out to $25 per $100,000 in property value.

Currently, there is no EMS budget so all funding for the program comes from a $1,125 annual Department of Health grant, $50 per certified EMT and the firefighting fund.

EMS expenses come out to about $60,000 per year according to a release by the department. The cost breaks down to $11,370 for EMT reimbursement – which is $10 a call per EMT, $850 for fuel, $2,659 for medical supplies, $780 for ambulance maintenance and repairs, $3,637 for training, $10,050 in dispatch fees, $8,500 for insurance and $20,685 in administration and reporting fees.

Bragar said despite being able to fund the EMS program so far, the levy would guarantee that there is funding for the program in cases where the fire budget would not allow for them to support the EMS side.

“With AMR being level-zero, we’re having to wait for Protection-1 out of Quincy to come transport,” said Bragar. “So now we have a transport license, we will transport the patients.”

He explained that transporting patients then takes those resources from being available for other calls and by having an actual budget dedicated to EMS, they can possibly attract more volunteers in order to be able to have the staffing to support the number of calls they receive each month. Currently, each EMT only receives $10 per call, and with a budget, they have the ability to possibly offer a little more.

“Our call volume currently right now is 403 calls so far this year,” said Bragar. “And this has gone up by a minimum of like 80 calls every year the last three years consecutively.”

Bragar said more than half the calls they receive are for EMS services; despite that EMS calls are not part of their contract and are not something the department is required to respond to.

“The EMS side of things has always been something we’ve done because that’s what the public needed,” Bragar said.

The levy, Bragar said, is a way they are working to make sure they would not have to get to a decision, because of money, where they would possibly have to dismantle the EMS program.

He explained the funds allow them to be able to have all the necessary tools when needed because they have to be ready when they get the call for service.

“We really are 100% volunteer, no one’s getting paid to go on these calls, so every bit of cash that’s there goes back to the people in service.”

Rebecca Pettingill may be reached at rpettingill@columbiabasinherald.com.

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