01/12/223 - As many are already aware, MedCare EMS has informed Pike County that they will no longer provide EMS services ending early this year. We have been pursuing options and wish to provide an update.
Pike County has accepted a proposal from Portsmouth Ambulance to provide county-wide EMS coverage beginning in March of 2023. The agreement is for 3 years and will be revisited periodically with the expectation of renewing it for another 3-year term when this agreement expires.
To further explain the events that led to this change; the EMS offer accepted in 2020 required no tax subsidy. In other words, it was expected to function without funding from taxpayers but rather from insurance billings. However, a year before learning of and subsequently accepting MedCare's offer, Pike Countians had approved an EMS operating levy as the County service at that time was woefully underfunded. When a subsidy free service unexpectedly became available it rendered the recently approved levy unnecessary. As a result, the EMS levy was only collected for one year, after which collections were suspended.
It has become necessary to reinstate the previously suspended levy for fiscal year 2023. To further confuse matters, 2 older but smaller EMS levies had expired during this period and fallen off the tax rolls.
Unfortunately, our current EMS provider's proposal to continue service increased from zero subsidy to $1,600,000.00. This represents over triple the amount of the EMS levy that will be reactivated this tax year. It became clear during proposal review that continuing with MedCare was simply cost prohibitive to the County. The new agreement is substantially less cost than our current provider and is in line with cost estimates derived from review of past and current expenses from multiple providers.
Pike County will have EMS service when our current provider ceases to operate as we have an agreement in place to ensure seamless service.
Additionally, the temporary funding shortfall that will exist due to this EMS provider change will be paid for with emergency funds. Emergency funds exist due to prudent fiscal policy in recent years so fortunately, Pike County is positioned to weather this change to continue providing EMS.
Lastly, in order to replace the 2 older levies that have expired and to ensure availability and continuity of EMS going forward, a tax levy commensurate to fund that effort will be put before Pike County voters in the fall of 2023.
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