It looks like some 10,000 people might have ambulance service again in five southern Colorado communities early next year, as voters in Fremont County look toward approving a measure aimed at restoring it.
This past summer the Penrose EMS ceased operations because they didn’t have enough volunteers to keep it running. Florence Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 6C asked voters to approve increasing the property tax mill levy by 10 mills to fund two ambulances, one in Penrose and one in Florence, both staffed by paid personnel around the clock. The money will also pay for expenses like medical supplies and equipment and additional fire protection services. The ballot issue appears to have passed by a wide margin.
According to the measure’s supporters, without this funding the residents of Florence, Penrose, Coal Creek, Rockvale and Williamsburg faced the possibility of calling 911 for help in a life threatening situation and not getting a timely response. While the number of EMS volunteers was dwindling, demand for these services has been increasing as most of these communities grew in population during the last decade.
It’s estimated that a $200,000 property will incur an extra $143 in taxes each year under the new mill levy. Critics of the ballot issue said it wasn’t fair for people with higher value to have to pay more for this service than individuals with less expensive properties.
If this measure did not pass, a working group would have looked for an alternative way to provide EMS services to the area - such as creating a new special service district. But that would have also required a mill levy to be approved by voters and would take at least a year to establish.
Southern Colorado is changing a lot these days. We can help you keep up. Sign up for the KRCC Weekly Digest here and get the stories that matter to Southern Colorado, delivered straight to your inbox.