POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County EMS operating levy went down in defeat by a narrow margin.
Those voting for the levy were 5,807, those voting against the levy were 4,170. The levy required 60 percent of the vote in order to pass.
Dylan Handley, the newly appointed director of Mason County EMS, is also a member of the levy committee and had pushed hard for its passage.
“Although the majority of the county, 58.2 percent, felt we needed to support EMS, it did not pass,” Handley said. “We fell around 179 votes short of the 60 percent needed. We feel that we ran a very positive, transparent campaign, reaching out to as many as we could to get the message out about how important this was to continue to provide the service for our county. Despite this setback, we will continue to do the best we can with what we have. We are not in danger of closing and will still be here when needed. Thanks to all who saw the need and supported it.”
The Mason County Commission voted the levy on to the ballot in a unanimous vote. After the votes were counted, Commissioner Rick Handley, who is also on the Mason County Ambulance Authority Board, said the results were “disappointing.”
Commissioner Handley added: “We hoped for a different result. This will narrow our funds and possibly affect what the county commission can give other outside organizations. We were hoping to extend some (EMS) services but we’re not sure what we’ll be able to do now. The commission will be meeting with Dylan and Dennis (Zimmerman) to see what we need to do to address the future.”
The levy would’ve generated $766,691 annually, which meant it would’ve raised a total of $3.8 million over the course of its five-year term. If passed, the levy would’ve gone into effect July 1, 2017 and expire on July 1, 2021. The levy also received official endorsements from the Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce, Pleasant Valley Hospital and the Point Pleasant Rotary Club, as well as from several other businesses and organizations. The levy campaign efforts were all made possible through donations from numerous businesses and individuals.
The official resolution the commissioners signed was to specifically support the continued operation of Mason County EMS which was not to be confused with Mason County 911. The two are separate entities which are separately funded, and only Mason County 911 receives any sort of fees designated for that operation. Mason County EMS makes its money from billing Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance for services. However, Mason County EMS has been at the mercy of insurance companies and, those agencies are operating differently than before, particularly when it comes to transporting dialysis patients which did bring in a significant amount of revenue.
It has been suggested a private ambulance company could come into Mason County to provide services but that is not known at this time. Commissioner Handley said, it’s likely more county money will be used to fund EMS but again, that may mean some other outside agencies will see decreases in their funding.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.