Perry Port Salem Rescue District seeks new funds


2 mill property tax levy on Nov. 2 ballot

PORT JEFFERSON — Voters residing in the Perry Port Salem Ambulance District will be asked to consider passing an additional 2-mill tax levy for the purpose of providing, maintaining, and operating emergency medical services within the district on Nov. 2.

The additional levy will cost the taxpayer $70 per year for every $100,000 worth of property value over the next five years. Based on estimates for 2020 values, the additional levy will bring in an additional $177,570 per year for the squad to operate. Currently, the ambulance board is functioning on a 1-mill levy that generates approximately $65,000 per year to cover their contract with the squad and the expenses of owning and maintaining two ambulances.

According to the ambulance district’s bylaws, any tax money received is divided up in three different ways, said Matthew Barhorst, board member. Each board member draws a minimal salary for meetings attended each year. A total of 75% of the tax dollars is given to the squad for its operation and 25% is reserved for the equipment renewal and purchases.

“We might have to change our bylaws to make things work,” said Barhorst, who said it’s getting harder and harder to find volunteers to work on the squad runs. “Hopefully if the levy passes we’ll be able to make the rescue squad work.”

He said the lack of volunteers isn’t just a problem in Shelby County. It’s a problem across the country as people are changing their priorities and what they do with their time.

For years, the Perry Port Salem Rescue primarily functioned with volunteers and in recent years some part-time paid daytime staff. Current revenues from the tax base and billed runs have prevented the employment of a workforce solely dedicated at manning the ambulances around the clock.

In 2019, Perry Port Salem had 119 EMS calls in the district. Of those, 13 calls (or 10.9%) had to be handled by neighboring agencies because of the declining number of volunteer workers.

In 2020, there was 58% jump in call volume with 205 EMS calls in the district, 86 more than the previous year. Of those, 44 calls (or 21.5%) had to be handled by neighboring EMS agencies based on lack of enough staffing.

Fewer and fewer people have continued their involvement, and by the end of May 2021, only seven people remained as active certified members of Perry Port Salem Rescue. As of mid-September, there had been 194 EMS calls in the district, 111 (or 57.2%) of which had to be handled by neighboring agencies due to staffing struggles and limited availability of volunteer staff. Based on the current rate of call volume, the district is on target to have 270 EMS calls by years end.

Based on the increased burden on their staff and services to its own community, one of the neighboring jurisdictions who had been handling a majority of the calls in the district terminated their first call mutual-aid contract, leaving the Perry Port Salem Ambulance District Board of Trustees rushing to take immediate action necessary for the health and well-being of their constituents. In early September, members of the Perry Port Salem Ambulance District Board entered into a temporary contract with Spirit EMS, who has two stations in Shelby County, to begin handling calls within the ambulance district through the end of the year.

It is the hope of the ambulance board that the levy will enable Perry Port Salem Rescue to be able to hire EMS personnel to serve the community needs around the clock. The squad is also planning to host an EMT class starting in December and a first responder class in January for anyone in the community interested in serving.

Should the levy not pass, members of the Perry Port Salem Ambulance District Board including Barhorst, Steve Butterfield and Jeff Clark have openly said the current existing 1 mill level of funding is insufficient to financially sustain the minimum staffing certification requirements by Ohio law, again leaving the district without 24 hour, 7 days a week EMS protection come Jan. 1, 2022.

For those interested in more information about the levy and/or the needs of the squad, the Friends of Perry Port Salem Rescue are holding a community picnic Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Perry Port Salem Squad house, located at 205 Wall St., Port Jefferson, prior to the community trick or treat event. At the picnic, a complimentary meal will be served, free blood pressure checks will be offered, and officials will be on hand to answer any questions residents might have.

Anyone unable to attend Sunday’s picnic, but having questions about the levy, are encouraged to contact Barhorst at 937-402-0113 or via email at baron@watchtv.net.

The ambulance district covers Salem, Perry and Green Townships, which also includes Port Jefferson, Maplewood, Pasco, Pemberton and Tawawa.

Other tax issues

Several other tax issues will appear on the ballot. All of the issues are renewals.

Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services has a .6 mill, 5-year property tax renewal on the ballot. The funds will provide counseling and supportive services to children and adults through the operation of alcohol and drug addiction programs and mental health programs.

The board covers Shelby, Miami and Darke counties.

The Van Buren Township Northwest Fire District is seeking the renewal of a 2 mill, 5-year property tax for fire protection.

Washington Township has a renewal of a .2 mill, 5-year property tax levy on the ballot. The funds from the levy would be used for paying general costs and expenses of operating, providing, maintaining and operating expenses of fire apparatus, appliances, buildings, sources of water supply and materials along with payment of permanent, part-time or volunteer firefighters. Funds could also be used to purchase ambulance or emergency medical services operated by the fire department or firefighting company.

Van Buren Township is seeking the renewal of a 3 mill, 5-year property tax. Funds will be used for general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of township roads and streets.

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2 mill property tax levy on Nov. 2 ballot