Voters will decide fate of county wide EMS
by Renée Brich, Lifestyles Editor
SHELBY COUNTY — The Shelby County Board of Supervisors gave final approval for a resolution declaring Emergency Medical Service (EMS) an essential service in Shelby County following a third and final public hearing Tuesday, June 13.
Resolution 2023-29, passed unanimously, allows taxation to fund emergency services. The proposal to provide a unified, county wide emergency service will now be decided by Shelby County voters during the general election to be held November 7, 2023.
The resolution also determines voting membership of the EMS Advisory Council, which consists of a Myrtue Medical Center Administrator or designee; a mayor or council member of a Shelby County community with paid EMS employees; a Shelby County resident EMS volunteer; Harlan City Administrator or designee; Shelby County EMA Chairperson or designee; a mayor or council member of a Shelby County city with a volunteer EMS service; and a Shelby County Board of Supervisor appointee.
Prior to the public hearing, EMS Advisory Council members Tim Plumb and Alex Londo addressed the Board, and explained why the decision was necessary and discussed funding.
If the EMS Public Measure passes, all Shelby County residents will pay for a share of the cost of EMS through a tax levy. The proposed amount is 75 cents per $1,000 of taxable property within the county (not valuation). In addition, there will be an income surtax assessment on Iowa individuals’ income tax returns for Shelby County residents at a rate of 1%.
“We are trying to do what is best for the citizens of Shelby County and the taxpayers’ money,” Plumb said.
The Advisory Council stated property tax funding will be collected starting in September 2024. The 2024-2025 fiscal year will be dedicated to acquiring a facility, purchasing needed equipment and supplies, and developing the program.
The Advisory Council is currently discussing the option of purchasing the Medivac facility.
As funds are available, a Service Director will be hired to develop policies and programs, hire staff and apply for necessary licenses. A new county-run ambulance service could start operations July 1, 2025.
The new Shelby County EMS would be fully staffed, with six paramedics, six EMT’s and a coordinator.
Funding will also be distributed to the county’s volunteer departments to buy needed equipment or other supplies.
Jennifer Lefeber, Myrtue Medical Center Emergency Room Director; Gene Gettys, Harlan City Administrator; Glenn Birks, Earling Volunteer EMS; Shelby County Sheriff Neil Gross; and Darin Haake all spoke in favor of the public measure.
Joel Wahling stated he recognized the need for a full-time ambulance service, but asked if there was another funding option. “Keeping property taxes in line is a priority.”
Board Chairman Steve Kenkel stated due to legislation, funding options are limited, and it would take new legislation to change the funding mechanism.
Prior to the passage, Supervisor Bryce Schaben thanked the county’s EMS volunteers for their service.
Kenkel also expressed appreciation to the EMS Advisory Council. “We have the right people at the table,” he said.