Thursday, April 19, 2018

ALS service still alive

Stillwater Ambulance District No. 1 approved overwhelmingly by voters

The proposed Stillwater Ambulance District No. 1 mail ballot passed overwhelmingly Tuesday night, ensuring that Advanced Life Support services provided by Columbus Fire Rescue will continue.
A total of 1,543 votes were cast, with 1,168 in favor of creating the district and 373 voting against it. A total of 2,777 ballots were issued, marking a 55.5 percent voter turnout rate.
Also, 1,042 voted in favor of the proposed funding mechanism and 495 voted against.
Eligible voters were those who live or own property in the elementary school districts of Columbus, Reed Point and Rapelje. Voters in all three of those districts were in favor of creating the Stillwater Ambulance District. When it came to funding it, Rapelje and Reed Point rejected the proposed funding mechanism. In Columbus, the funding mechanism was heavily supported, which carried it.
Columbus Fire Chief Rich Cowger said Wednesday morning it was “a victory for the community” and thanked voters for supporting and trusting CFR.
Cowger also said he “hears” those who voted against the formation of the district and said it means there is work to do.
“We have to prove ourselves good stewards of their money,” said Cowger.
Columbus City Councilman Harold Houghton also extended thanks to voters, calling the creation of the ambulance district “the greatest thing that has happened to this community.”
Because it was a two-question ballot, the district could have been created, but the chosen funding mechanism could have been rejected. That mechanism is a mill levy that will not exceed 13.3 mills, which means a total of approximately $300,083 assessed on all properties within the boundary of Stillwater Ambulance District 1.
The Columbus Rural Fire Board and Columbus Fire Rescue sought to create the district to ensure ALS services performed by three paramedics and two advanced EMTs continue. Those positions are currently funded through two federal grants, which are now expiring and with them, was the potential loss of those positions.
The creation of the district was supported by Stillwater Billings Clinic healthcare providers, the Columbus Rural Fire Board and local law enforcement.
A 5-member citizen board will be responsible for matters including budgeting, hiring, wages, setting fees and more. That board will initially be appointed by the Stillwater County Commissioners, then turn into elected positions. The board will be its own entity and serve as a pass-through, while maintaining an interlocal agreement with Columbus Fire Rescue to provide these services.

Create the District:
Yes: 1,027
No: 297
Under Voters: 2
Fund the District
Yes: 932
No: 389
Under Votes: 5

Create the District:
Yes: 52
No: 46
Under Voters: 0
Fund the District
Yes: 37
No: 60
Under Votes: 0

Create the District:
Yes: 89
No: 30
Under Voters: 0
Fund the District
Yes: 46
No: 60
Under Votes: 0