Letter to the editor: Measure 2 will put funds for emergency crews in jeopardyAs a person who normally votes to reduce taxes, I feel it is my duty to warn citizens of the area about the dire consequences of Measure 2. The abolishment of property taxes sounds interesting to me, but it would prohibit cities, counties, school districts, townships, fire districts, ambulance districts and any other political subdivisions from levying a tax on assessed property values.
By: Bob Vanden Berge, The Jamestown Sun
As a person who normally votes to reduce taxes, I feel it is my duty to warn citizens of the area about the dire consequences of Measure 2. The abolishment of property taxes sounds interesting to me, but it would prohibit cities, counties, school districts, townships, fire districts, ambulance districts and any other political subdivisions from levying a tax on assessed property values. It further directs the state government to fund undefined “legally imposed obligations” through other sources. This creates a situation where local control of those institutions, which are valuable to us, may or may not be funded by the Legislature and state government depending on whether they are perceived to be “legally imposed obligations.” Folks, to me, this measure will create complete loss of local control! Consolidation of schools has long been a sore point for small towns across North Dakota. If Measure 2 passes the Legislature and state government will be put in a position of deciding which organization gets funded, consolidated or simply eliminated, not you locally through property tax funding.
As the president of Kulm Ambulance Corps, which serves parts of LaMoure, Dickey, McIntosh, and Logan counties, Measure 2 creates an huge element of uncertainty and fear. A lot of us, including myself, are getting to the age where we may need ambulance, fire or emergency services. I don’t enjoy the thought that those services may not be located locally, because a bureaucrat in Bismarck decided that consolidation of services would cost less or be more efficient.
Small-town ambulances across the state are struggling with a decline in volunteerism, increased fuel costs, cost of supplies and advanced diagnostic equipment. The cost of purchasing a new ambulance or fire truck has risen 50 percent in the last 10-15 years. At the same time, ambulance services struggle with Medicare and insurance reimbursement and underpaid or unpaid service. Simply raising rates or working through endless grant opportunities does not insure consistent, sustained service.
Most small-town ambulances just about break even on fees charged for ambulance runs. The reality is that many volunteer ambulance services derive in excess of 50 percent of their annual income from property tax levies that would be abolished by Measure 2. That local levy pays for required biannual training, ambulances, medical supplies and equipment, workers’ compensation and other forms of insurance.
Your volunteer ambulance and fire service along with many other local organizations deserve more. Our citizens are entitled to quality ambulance, fire, rescue and other services we decide are necessary in our local area.
Support your local organizations and vote “no” on Measure 2.
Bob Vanden Berge
(Vanden Berge is president of the Kulm Ambulance Corps)