Ambulance district merger election slated for Oct. 1
September 25, 2013
Consolidation will actually lower property taxes for downvalley residents
The consolidation of Eagle County's two ambulance districts go to western Eagle County voters next week.
Eagle County Paramedic Services is completing the process of merging the services of Eagle County Health Service District and Western Eagle County Health Services District. The consolidation plan involves an inclusion election for voters in the current WECHSD service area, including Eagle and Gypsum, which will be held Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Voters will be asked to approve a measure amending boundaries allowing WECHSD to be included in the ECHSD service area. Passage would dissolve the WECHSD and reduce property tax rates from the current 5 mills to 2 mills.
Property owners in western Eagle County would see the mill levy reduction implemented in 2015. WECHSD property owners currently pay roughly $40 per $100,000 of property value to fund WECHSD. The reduction would cut taxes by more than half, bringing the cost to slightly less than $16 per $100,000 of valuation. Property owners currently in the ECHSD service area will continue to be taxed at a rate of 2 mills.
"We feel this election is the simplest way to finalize the merger procedure," said Fred Morrison, CEO of Eagle County Paramedic Services. "ECPS continues to consolidate services to offer a superior standard of care to all Eagle County residents."
Beginning May 1, all paramedic service employees in the county were moved to the same shift schedule and can be working at any of the five ambulance stations in the county. The merger has run smoothly as the two districts have worked side-by-side for years and frequently trained together.
If voters do not adopt the inclusion measure, ECPS will continue to operate as a merged entity through inter-governmental agreements. However, the 5 mill rate will remain in place for WECHSD taxpayers.
"We think the decision to create a countywide health service district makes sense both operationally and financially," said Christopher Montera, Assistant CEO of Eagle County Paramedic Services, and WECHSD's former chief. "Merging our services has improved coverage as we can now move resources throughout the county to assure quick response."
Pending voter approval and ratification of results, Eagle County District Court will order the final merger. Once this is accomplished the two boards of directors for the separate districts will be consolidated and the merging process should be complete by late October.
In-person voting in the inclusion election will take place Tuesday, Oct. 1, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 785 Red Table Drive in Gypsum — the WECHSD Ambulance Station. Absentee ballot request forms can be obtained by calling ECPS at 970-926-5270.