Benton Evening News - Benton, IL
  • Oct. 30: Ambulance service

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  • To the editor:
    On Nov. 4, Franklin County voters will make many important decisions concerning the future of their country, state, and county. I am respectfully requesting that my fellow citizens of the county also strongly consider voting “yes” on the issue of the sales tax increase for the purpose of public safety. The Franklin County Board has indicated by resolution that, though the issue cannot state so, it is their intention to use this money for the support of an effective and long-term ambulance service.
    It is estimated by a study of existing financial information that an ambulance service operating in our county would lose at least $800,000 per year. Our mix of payers, with its significant percentages of both self-pay and Medicaid clients, makes running an ambulance service at a profit in our county a dim possibility. A service simply won’t want to come here and receive a loss for their efforts.
    The 3/4-percent sales tax would cost about 75 cents for every 100 dollars spent on qualified items. Groceries, prescription drugs, vehicles with titles, recurrent medical supplies such as diabetic needs, and farm equipment would be exempt.
    In early December, the sentencing of the previous ambulance service owner could result in the loss of our Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance service putting the citizens of our county at risk of depending on mutual aid agreements of nearby services in an “available” situation.
    I believe that the loss of our service will at the least cause great inconvenience to those who need emergency attention or transfers and at the worst threaten their lives. My bias is, of course, that the unavailability of speedy response will detract from our ability at Franklin Hospital to do our job at the highest level possible in terms of people getting to us fast and on their way quickly if need be.
    We know full well that there are some concerns about the use of the money this tax will generate in terms of amount and use. There is no intention on the part of the county board to use this money in the cause of a hidden agenda as some have questioned. The projected amount to be generated is possibly more than the suggested losses as well. However, there are so many unknowns in the financial scenario that those involved in planning felt it was best to generate adequate resources until the need is known. Some of the funds raised also will be used to assure that the existing West Frankfort service is subsidized as well.
    It is so difficult in these times to speak in favor of any kind of additional tax on citizens, but we all are used to sacrificing so that the needs of others can be served. I urge your support of this important step on our county’s road to keeping our citizens safe and insuring that others seeking to locate here see us as an attractive community.
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    Tom Vaughn
    Franklin Hospital Board Chairman
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