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Ottawa County voters to decide EMS property tax issue - KOAM TV 7

Ottawa County voters to decide EMS property tax issue

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Residents in Ottawa County, Oklahoma will soon decide on a countywide tax levy to support private ambulance services across the county.

The increase regards the funding for the seven ambulances between the Integris Miami EMS and Quapaw Tribe EMS.

Signs both for and against the measure have been spreading across the county.

The January 8 measure aims to expand a 3 mill levy tax for residents living outside of the Miami School District.  If Ottawa County voters pass the EMS tax, those living outside of the school district would see a yearly increase of about $38 for a home valued at $100,000.

Officials say residents now living in the Miami Public School District have already been paying for over 30 years.

According to the EMS board, Miami EMS received over 3,000 calls in 2011, and only 61% were for residents who lived inside the school district - the remaining calls were across the rest of the county.

"Miami's been paying this for 33 years, they've contracted with Integris," says Clint Epperson, the Director of Emergency Medical Service at Integris  Baptist Regional Health Center.  "The report that we got that included what a countywide 3 mill would generate - it is around $400,000."

While opponents say a tax increase is unnecessary Epperson says it is splitting the rising cost of operation between the Tribe, Integris and the taxpayer.

For those still unsure how they will vote both agencies have set up an open forum Monday, January 7 at Cardin Baptist Church to discus concerns.

Epperson says that expanding the services will cut costs to those Ottawa County residents who live outside of the Miami School District.

Currently those outside of the district are charged a non-district rate, which is about $200 higher than those in the Miami Public School District.

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