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Examiner
  • Fire chief, council discuss 'what ifs' of tax levy vote

  • With just a month until an August vote on a potential property tax increase for the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, officials are hitting the pavement hard to get the word out.

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  • With just a month until an August vote on a potential property tax increase for the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, officials are hitting the pavement hard to get the word out.
    CJC Fire Chief Steve Westermann spoke about the tax proposal Monday at the Blue Springs City Council meeting. Residents of the fire district, which includes Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Lake Tapawingo and portions of unincorporated Eastern Jackson County, are being asked to consider a 15 cent levy increase per $100 of assessed valuation. The election is Aug. 6.
    Westermann said the levy increase is needed to shift the cost of CJC’s EMS services from the city of Blue Springs solely to CJC. If approved, the increase would begin in December. Residents would see a nickel the first year, a dime the second year and then the full 15 cents the third year.
    The city of Blue Springs currently holds the license for EMS for the area that CJC covers. It has contracted with CJC since 1992 to do the work. However, after medical payments and billing, which equates to around $1.4 million, it still subsidizes the service about $800,000 annually. The remaining $300,000 needed to operate the service comes from CJC’s fire levy. The city also helps to pay for capital costs, such as new ambulances, which would also end if the levy is approved.
    City administrator Eric Johnson said it is too soon to say what the city would do with the extra money it would have if the property tax levy is approved. He said if the issue fails, the city will work with CJC to decide what options are possible going forward.
    “The council has not taken any action about not continuing with the (CJC) partnership if the issue is not successful,” he said. “Going forward, we would need to look at the types of services provided and look at the city of Grain Valley.”
    Councilman Ron Fowler said he feels that if the levy increase is approved, Blue Springs residents would essentially be double paying for the EMS service, through the city’s sales tax and then through property taxes. He made a motion that the city roll back its levy 15 cents to be fair to Blue Springs residents. However, the motion died for lack of a second.
    Westermann said the owner of a $100,000 house would pay an extra 71 cents per month the first year, $1.58 per month the second year and an extra $2.38 when the levy increase is fully in place at 15 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
    Johnson said currently, the city of Grain Valley or its residents as well as Lake Tapawingo pay nothing for the EMS service. When the contract started in 1992, the emergency calls from Grain Valley represented about 1 percent of calls. More than 20 years later, those calls represent 14 to 15 percent of CJC’s total calls.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Hopefully it is successful,” Johnson said. “However, we are talking about $150,000 (of the city’s money) going to the citizens of Grain Valley who are not currently paying.”
     

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