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FIRE/EMS TAX TALK CONTINUES

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By Bryan Marshall

The Grant County Fiscal Court paln to hear more public comments about a proposed emergency services taxing district at 6 p.m. on Dec. 13.

The Grant County Fire Chiefs’ Association proposed an emergency services tax last year to to help generate revenue for both fire and ambulance services.

After initially proposing a tax rate of 11 cents per $100 assessed value, the association dropped the rate to 7.5 cents, which would cost taxpayers $75 on a $100,000 home.
It is estimated the 7. 5 percent tax rate would generate about $600,000 per year.

Williamstown and Dry Ridge residents would be exempt from the tax because their cities already spend $1.1 million on fire and EMS protection.

The maximum the rate could ever be is 20 cents per $100 assessed value on property, if approved by the taxing district board.
The fiscal court has attempted to address the funding issue by discussing an ambulance taxing district that would have an initial rate set at 1.5 cents per $100 assessed property or about $15 for a home valued at $100,000.

The fire chiefs have argued that the ambulance tax, which has since been tabled indefinitely, would not generate enough revenue.
The court also passed a fire ordinance in May that charges residents $25 on their tax bill for fire protection.

However, residents can apply to opt out of the dues and receive their money back.

The fiscal court has previously budgeted $25,000 for each of the five fire departments in the county, but no money has been set aside for ambulance services.

The Dry Ridge Fire Department and Rural Metro are the two ambulance providers in the county.

Along with several letters of support, the fire chiefs’ association presented the court a petition with 2,531 signatures of registered voters/land owners on it.

Only 1,067 signatures were required on the petition to bring the issue to the court and 1,425 signatures were validated by the county clerk.

Everything in the fire chiefs’ three-year plan provided to the court is for immediate equipment needs and the replacement of the Corinth Fire Department building due to age and use.

The only exception is the implementation of an ambulance that would be used in the Corinth area and operated by the Corinth Fire Department.

The taxing district board created by the emergency services taxing district is comprised of seven people, including three appointed by the fiscal court, two elected land owners within the taxing district and two elected fire fighters that are land owners within the district.

Regardless of what the outcome of the vote would have been, the fiscal court ultimately would have to decide the fate of the taxing district.