Winchester EMS Tax Still On Table As Commissioners Mull Options

By Benjamin Cox on October 15, 2019 at 12:36pm

The Scott County Commissioners are currently sorting through an issue with adding a property tax to the county. Chairman Bob Schafer explains what’s been happening with the EMS tax that’s been on the commission’s agenda for the past two months. “[The ordinance] would form a special service area for a tax to support EMS services. Earlier in the process, there was still paperwork that needed to be done so we could assess what we have in the county and what we are doing. In the last tabling of the issue, in working with the State’s Attorney and with EMS providing us information, it just kept getting prolonged. Right now, the issue is indefinitely tabled until we make a decision.”

Schafer says that regardless of anything getting passed right now, the tax isn’t going to be assessed right away. “Right now, even if we passed this, you have to have a public hearing within 60 days of passing the ordinance. You have to send out notices to every entity within the taxing district and all the partial owners in that district. It all takes time, so even if we passed it today, which it’s not even on the agenda, we’re talking February. It’s my understanding people have 60 days to petition against the ordinance if they don’t agree with it. It’s not going to get on the tax rolls this year based on just the timeline of where we are at. We’re hopefully going to make a decision on this fairly quickly on if this is the avenue that we are going to go and hopefully, we will get that done and have the answers so everyone knows where we’re at.”

Schafer says they haven’t ruled out sending it to the ballot box: “We are looking at the fact that we may put it on the ballot. We haven’t decided that yet. That’s one of the questions that have come up recently. It’s one of the reasons why nothing has happened because we are discussing that item, too. We’re trying to get information from the State’s Attorney on the criteria for that.”

Schafer says he’s unaware of the pursuit of other funding opportunities because the commissioners didn’t initiate the process. “This whole thing was proposed by the local EMS. It wasn’t initiated by the commissioners but has to go through our office as required by the state statute.”

Schafer says that the commissioners are still awaiting more information from the States Attorney’s office and some more official paperwork and information before making a conclusive vote on the matter.