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Ambulance issue going on ballot

August 21, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County voters will be asked to consider a $2.2 million bond issue during the Nov. 3 general election that could set up the county's first paid ambulance crew.

The Jefferson County Commission decided to put the bond issue on the ballot after meeting with the Jefferson County Ambulance Authority Thursday morning.

The proposal would pay for a full-time paramedic and emergency medical technician at the county's four volunteer ambulance stations - Shepherdstown, Independent, Friendship and Blue Ridge Mountain fire companies.

County officials started putting together a plan for paid ambulance service after volunteer crews said they were having trouble responding to a growing number of calls in the county, which total about 3,000 a year.

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The plan is $3 million cheaper than a plan that was voted down by the commissioners a week ago. There was concern about the cost of the initial proposal, and volunteer firefighters believed they were left out of the planning process, officials said.

"I personally believe what you are bringing to us is a lot more palatable," said Commissioner Gregory Lance.

Lance said some volunteer ambulance members believed the $5.2 million plan was what the county needed, but it is important to have a proposal that the public can support.

Commissioner James G. Knode said the plan was "worthy of going forward with an endorsement."

The levy would be in effect for three years. For a house assessed at $60,000, it would increase the homeowners' annual tax bill by $20.16, county officials said.

If approved by the voters, funding for the ambulance service would be available beginning July 1, 1999, Lance said.

The revised plan brought to the commissioners Thursday did not include the construction of three additional ambulance stations in the southern and western parts of the county.

The ambulance authority believed the extra stations, which were part of the more expensive proposal, were needed because they would be placed in areas of the county that take longer to respond to, said authority President Steve McKinney.

Rather than building the new stations, the revised plan will set aside money to add extra staff to ambulance companies that experience increased calls, McKinney said.

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