Sunday, July 20, 2003

Kenton officials abandon tax talk


Paramedic service would have benefited

By Stephenie Steitzer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A proposed tax that would generate about $1.7 million to pay for expanded paramedic service in Kenton County will not be on the November ballot.

A special committee of the Kenton County Mayor's Group decided last week that it would not have enough public support for the tax increase of 2.5 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Instead, the mayor's group on Saturday recommended that Kenton County Fiscal Court take bids from other paramedic service companies to provide advanced life support until the committee could refine the tax proposal and possibly have it ready for the November 2004 election.

"Right now, if we are going to spend taxpayers' money, we need to go out and find the best service for the dollar that we can find," Fort Mitchell Mayor Tom Holocher said.

TransCare, a non-profit organization owned by St. Elizabeth and St. Luke hospitals, responds to all life-threatening calls - known as advanced life support - in the county. It receives no government aid and relies on subscription drives for funding.

By paying a yearly fee of $12 for an individual or $45 per family, people who require paramedic services are not required to cover the difference if their health insurer refuses to pay the entire cost of service.

The subscription drive brought in less than $100,000 in 2002, and TransCare officials say the paramedic unit lost about $450,000 in Kenton County.

Elsmere Fire Chief Paul Lafontaine said the committee would continue to examine the proposed tax. He said the main issue to work out is whether to allocate some of the tax money to basic life support.

All Kenton County cities have at least one ambulance and volunteers to respond to non-life-threatening calls - known as basic life support.

Some officials in the county want the tax money only to be used for advanced life support. But others, including Lafontaine, say cities are struggling to sustain basic life support because of an increasing number of calls each year.

"The system is broke," Lafontaine said. "It's a lack of volunteers, a lack of money."

He said the committee is trying to decide how the tax money would be divided if it were to go to both basic and advanced life support.

"This is something that should have been addressed five years ago, but we keep putting a Band-Aid on it," he said.

E-mail ssteitzer@enquirer.com




TOP STORIES
Convergys may leave scars on council
Likely new UC chief a 'force'
Off we go (slow) to Dayton air show
Officials' travels under scrutiny

IN THE TRISTATE
Slave descendants reunite
Visitors will be a blast, seniors say
Safety lesson is fun, games
Tristate A.M. Report

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Bronson: The family of Deputy P.J. Reinert needs a hand
Pulfer: Catching up with John Shirey and his new life

BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Campers discuss diversity, learn how to break barriers
Work begins on new Springfield Twp. fire station
W. Chester girls raise money for kids' charities
Subdivision opposed by Morgan Twp. homeowners
Spruce to fill hole in town's heart

OBITUARIES
Marion L. Nichols retired from P&G
Sister Leo Marie Upsing dies at 98

OHIO
Judge rules out confession in woman's death
Man jailed for killing dog that bit his son
'Speed trap' loses sole traffic light
Ex-mental patient faces hearing in death of mom
Man convicted after mailing raccoon head
Pioneers of aviation honor Wrights' legacy
Death row inmate's appeal to be heard
Ohio Moments

KENTUCKY
Churchill Downs paying for nearby houses
Hebron church shares its past
Kenton officials abandon tax talk
Trek of the Mormon pioneers re-enacted