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First Charles City town meeting on EMS essential services tax levy vote will be Thursday night

By Bob Steenson, [email protected]

Members of the Floyd County EMS Advisory Council continue to focus their informational message and hold town hall meetings in communities throughout the county in anticipation of the essential services tax levy question which will be decided in the election next month.

The first open town hall meeting in Charles City is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 6, beginning at 7 p.m. in the NIACC Center near the Hy-Vee parking lot.

At the advisory council’s meeting held last week, council Chair Patrick Lumley reported that the first three town hall meetings, in Marble Rock, Nora Springs and Green, and a meeting in Charles City for the Charles City Fire and EMS personnel, had gone well.

As expected, a lot of the questions were about the cost of emergency medical services and the proposed maximum of 57¢ per $1,000 of assessed taxable valuation and/or 1% surtax on Iowa income tax that voters will be asked to decide on Nov. 8, said Lumley, who is a Charles City Council member.

There were also a lot of “what if” questions, such as what happens to EMS service in the county if the essential services levy fails to receive the required 60% support to pass, he said.

Floyd County Supervisor Roy Schwickerath, who is a non-voting member of the advisory council, said that without the tax levy support, the city and the county would have to decide if they can continue supporting ambulance services and other EMS as they are now through their general funds – which are also funded by property taxes – or if the level of service would have to be changed.

Dawn Staudt, the station supervisor for AMR (American Medical Response) ambulance service that currently has a contract with the city and county to supply ambulance service throughout the county, said it’s important to let people know that the maximum annual tax of $556,000 that is being asked to be approved isn’t the cost for the first year, but the average of likely escalating costs over 10 years.

Jeff Stirling, crew chief for the Greene Volunteer Ambulance, said there were questions at the Green meeting about what the breakdown for funding among the various EMS organizations serving Floyd County would be, and there were concerns expressed about the Floyd County Board of Supervisors having the final say in how much tax money is collected each year – up to the maximum $556,00 allowed – and how that money would be spent, given how the supervisors have handled funding on other projects such as the new law enforcement center and county courthouse updates.

The advisory council members went through the group’s brief slide show that is shown at meetings and made a few small changes, and also discussed a list of “frequently asked questions” – an FAQ – that the group has created and made a few tweaks to that in response to questions and comments at the informational meetings.

The remaining scheduled town hall meetings to provide information about the essential services tax levy vote and answer people’s questions are scheduled for:

  • Thursday, Oct. 6 – Charles City, 7 p.m. at the NIACC Center.
  • Monday, Oct. 17 – Floyd, 7 p.m. at the Floyd Fire Station, with Floyd Fire and Colwell Fire.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18 – Nora Springs, 7 p.m. at the Nora Springs City Hall.
  • Thursday, Oct. 20 – Charles City, 7 p.m. at the NIACC Center.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26 – Nashua, 7 p.m. at the Nashua Fire Department.

Other presentations are also planned for organizations and groups such as the Charles City Rotary Club, Lions Club, Elks and VFW at their meetings.

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