by Darren Doyle
It was a light agenda for Edmonson County Fiscal Court on Monday, Sept 14, as the bulk of the meeting was absorbed by approving reports and fees from various county offices. Keith Sanders, Director of Edmonson EMS, gave an updated report on the property tax rates adopted by the ambulance service taxing district.
Property taxes fund several necessary county offices, one being our local ambulance service. The local office has the authority to set their portion of the taxes on property tax bills. Sanders said the organization has been operating at a loss over the past 4 years, accumulating a deficit of approximately $75,000.
He broke down how the ambulance service is funded: The income they receive through real estate taxes only covers about 40% of their operating budget. He noted that Obamacare has caused Medicare and Medicaid to cut back on what they pay to the service. He said when the ambulance makes a run with a Medicare patient, the ambulance service is only reimbursed 55%. When transporting a Medicaid patient, the reimbursement is only around 17%. "A lot of times on a Medicaid run, we spend more than we make," he said.
He said that Medicaid billing nearly doubled after Obamacare went into effect. "Reimbursements are down, number of runs are down, and we're running in the hole. We only have two ways to generate revenue, one is tax rate, the other is making transports, and we have no control over the transports."
So, what does it mean for the local taxpayer? Actually, not much. The rates will add one dollar for every $100,000 worth of property. So, if you drive a $20,000 car, you'll pay an extra 20 cents. Live in a $150,000 home? A buck fifty. Sanders said with the increase, their increased revenue will only be around $10,000 for the year. Not nearly enough to make up for the deficit seen over the last 4 years.
County Road Foreman Ray Page reported that a new major drainage tile was nearing completion on Indian Creek Road and the mowing crew had recently finished all of district 3, part of district 2, and are now working in the Chalybeate area. He also gave an update on the state required salt bin project, which now requires a plot plan including all buildings and building specs on the road department property. This will probably have to be done by a surveying company which will increase the overall cost of the project.
Judge Cannon reported that Parks & Rec Coordinator Greg Hudson was attending the National Parks and Rec Convention in Las Vegas, and hopes to bring back lots of new ideas for the program here. Magistrate Mark Woosley, who also serves on the Little League Basketball Board said the league will have sign ups soon. We will bring you more info when it becomes available.
David Embrey, County Extension Agent, thanked the court for working with his office during the recent tax rate discussions. A new Extension Office tax was put in place and will take a six-figure financial burden away from the county budget.
Rhonda Clemmons from Tourism and Chamber of Commerce reported that had been a ton of great feedback on Edmonson County's booth at the State Fair. She also said she's been collecting more Room and Rec taxes which helps the Tourism board and Parks & Rec.
The court also:
The next fiscal court meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 28.