The Scott County Commissioners officially accepted the application for a special service area tax to fund the Winchester EMS.
The vote passed 2-0. The Commissioners have not yet announced a process to replace the late Weldon Fearneyhough, who passed away on October 7th. Fearneyhough’s term will be up for election in 2024.
An advisory referendum to pass the special service area tax passed at the June primary 525-385. Winchester EMS President Randy Dolen says that petitions for people not wanting the tax will now circulate for the next 60 days. 51% of the registered voters and 51% of the landowners can file a petition against the tax. “It’s kind of a weird situation they have created,” Dolen says, “but that’s how it works and stacks out and many people don’t understand it. That’s where it’s at right now.” The petition period will end on December 24th.
Dolen says that a lot of discussion was around the tax rate for the special taxing area. He says that the resolution passed with the same rate that was on the ballot in June at .004: “The amount of revenue fluctuates a little bit, based upon the Annual Assessed Value of property. It will be in the ballpark, we’ve been spinning the numbers ever since started this, originally around $260,000 ballpark. At this stage of the game, [that revenue] will solely be used for personnel.”
Dolen says it would allow the Winchester EMS to employ two full-time staff members to allow operations for 24/7 operation. Dolen says as it currently stands there are 3 volunteers handling the majority of the calls for the entire southern half of Scott County.
The Scott County Times says some were opposed to the new tax because many said “it wasn’t the right time” due to inflation and rising home costs for utilities among other things. The consensus was that many agreed that an ambulance service is needed.