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Supplanting Fire Department general fund tax dollars with EMS Fees

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  • Supplanting Fire Department general fund tax dollars with EMS Fees

    In the beginning; City Fire Rescue Services, including EMS, were all tax funded and no charge services for city taxpayers across Washington State. Paid for largely, almost entirely, with city general fund property tax dollars. No matter the emergency, the response was taxpayer funded, no charge for those taxpayers. And it was an excellent deal for city taxpayers to use their 24/7/365 firefighter response for ems response too. A natural fit and taxpayers got twice the bang for their tax dollar, covering Fire rescue and EMS with the same firefighter workforce responding from city fire stations. And still today, all but the largest of these city fire departments get double duty from their firefighter/EMT's and Firefighter/Paramedics.
    Unfortunately. city leaders across the State have turned their taxpayers tax funded, no charge Fire Medic Units into city general fund tax dollar supplanting cash cows. At the expense of their Taxpayers. With an assist from the State Legislature in allowing cities in this State to separate out their tax funded no charge Fire Medic Units, still using tax funded firefighters, fire stations and ambulances; as a new City Ambulance Utility. And a ?no new taxes, just new fees? approach to city government in our State.
    If you take away from their City fire budgets the monthly ambulance utility fee and user fees on city taxpayers for these new city ambulance "Utilities"; These fire departments would no longer exist as any kind of effective firefighting force due to lack of funding. That is just how bad this supplanting of general fund tax dollars from city fire rescue has become.
    And I haven't even addressed what is every bit as bad about the effect of placing a fixed fee for ambulance on monthly utility fees. Or how unfair the collection of ambulance user fees is for a lot of City Taxpayers.
    General fund property tax dollars that had always funded no charge Fire EMS for city taxpayers is based on property values. Higher property values paid more, and lower valued properties paid less, based on assessed property value. Higher valued city properties are businesses, apartment buildings, hotels and motels and like that. With lower valued city properties being single family homes, generally speaking. These monthly Ambulance fees, attached to city utility bills, are not based on property value; every utility customer gets the same Ambulance fee attached to their utility bill. One City Utility account, one monthly ambulance fee. Single Family Residences all pay the same monthly ambulance fee as Walmart or the Holiday Inn or the apartment building owner. How is that fair to city residential single-family homeowners bearing the brunt of funding their fire rescue service with new fees to supplant general fund property tax dollars from fire department use? It's not.
    And the most the City can collect in user fees from anyone on Medicaid, city taxpayer or not, is around $200 per medic unit use. A bit more for Medicare. And your taxpayers with high deductibles or no insurance are on the hook for the full bill for the fire medic unit use. Property taxes are a much fairer way to raise those funds for the Fire Department; maybe even a voter-approved EMS Levy too.
    Kennewick Officials started adding a small fee, very quietly, on to city utility bills in the early 1980's in the name of upgrading Firefighter/EMT ambulances to include Firefighter/Paramedic ambulances. That small fee was taken to court and lost as an illegal tax in the late 1990's. That is when the rip-off of Kennewick Taxpayers via their Fire Medic Units really took off. Starting new monthly fees and user fees for EMS and supplanting general fund tax dollars. But first Kennewick Official started billing their Taxpayers with medical insurance and only their medical insurance for Fire Medic Unit use. And if their Taxpayer did not have medical insurance or if they had a high deductible or had any copay, city officials would not collect anything from their taxpayers. It wasn't until a few years later that Kennewick Officials started full billing their taxpayers, no more insurance only billing. Then City Officials got their utility fee approach to funding fire/ems reinstated. So now Kennewick Taxpayers pay the general fund property tax dollars that had always meant no charge fire rescue service, including fire medic units; and they pay monthly ambulance fees, to then pay user fees, to use their tax funded firefighters for EMS. So much for the bargain that was for Kennewick Taxpayers. It's actually a better financial deal to not be a Kennewick taxpayer using city fire medic units. That should tell you something.
    Last edited by Bigjohn24; 09-05-2018, 09:41 AM.

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