Metamora approves ambulance tax increase

Nick Vlahos
Emergency 116 EMT's Heidi Leman and Zack Drawhon pose in front of an ambulance at "Hero Day" Saturday in Metamora.

 Voters in Metamora and the surrounding area have authorized a special tax to help fund ambulance service.

The tax of no more than 25 cents per $100 assessed property valuation was approved 584-146 in the village and 353-117 in the Metamora Rural Fire Protection District, according to results reported March 20. Percentage-wise, it passed 80-20 in the village and 75-25 in the rural district.

The beneficiary is expected to be Emergency 116 Ambulance Service Inc. Since the late 1970s, Emergency 116 has provided service for the Metamora area, but this will be the first time it has received tax money. Previously, Emergency 116 relied on donations, fees and fundraisers.

“We do not have a philosophy like, ‘Boy, now we’ve got all this money, we’re going to go out and spend everything,’ “ Emergency 116 Board Chairman Bob Murphy said. “We’re going to make sure we’re providing top-notch, quality ambulance service while at the same time keeping the cost to the taxpayer down.

“We just felt we needed some tax support here. We don’t need to be totally supported by taxes.”

Agreements with the village and the rural district likely will be finalized later this year, said Murphy, who does not plan to seek the levy maximum. About $125 a year would be the highest possible tax increase for the owner of a $150,000 house, Murphy said.

The tax will allow Emergency 116 to continue plans to upgrade its service level from basic to paramedic, according to Murphy.

“Our No. 1 priority is to remain totally solvent,” he said.

It likely will be July 2013 before Emergency 116 begins to receive tax money, Murphy said.