Opinions on plan for next EMS levy attempt

(Posted Dec. 13, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

London resident Steve Scaggs has a theory as to why the city’s emergency medical services (EMS) levy failed and suggestions for what officials should do moving forward.

Scaggs, a former London city council member and current member of the London Board of Public Utilities, shared his opinions at the Dec. 6 council meeting. His focus was the EMS levy that failed 1,333-1,630 in the Nov. 6 general election. The city is forming its own EMS department following a split from the Madison County Emergency Medical District (EMD). The new EMS is set to be operational Jan. 1. The levy would have helped to fund the new department.

Scaggs pointed to several factors he believes led to the levy’s failure. Lack of promotion was one, he said. Another is that the city has the funding to run the EMS for two years without levy money.

“That would make me think as a person you don’t really need it,” Scaggs said. “You’ve got to show the people you need the money and what you’re going to do with the money.”

He also pointed to: the city’s request for an ongoing levy instead of a short-term, renewable levy; council’s decision to move forward with the split from EMD prior to the election instead of using the levy results to gauge residents’ opinions on the split, as originally planned; and Somerford Township’s recent decision to switch its fire service provider from London to the Central Townships Fire District.

“I’m not sure the people in this city have the trust that they should have,” Scaggs said. “So, therefore, make every effort you can to include the people.”

Scaggs suggests that the city wait until next November to run the levy again. By then, the new department will have a better idea of how much money it will collect in EMS billing and what assets it will get from the EMD split, he said. He also suggests going for three- or five-year levy.

“At the end of three years, when you’ve proven yourself and everybody is happy and you’ve shown you’ve put a better service out there, if you want to run a permanent, fine. I have no problem with that,” he said.

He continued, “We’ve rushed through all of this thing… We don’t need to rush right now. We need to do it right. Make the best fire department, make the best EMS that you can make for one simple reason: that’s the best thing for the people of this community.”

Following Scaggs’s comments, council member Rex Castle said to Scaggs, “I agreed with most everything you said.”

Trash pickup

Scaggs and council member Anthony Smith reported that the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is forming a committee to explore the pros and cons of outsourcing trash collection versus the city providing the service itself. The next BPU meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18 in city council chambers, 6 E. Second St.

City building up for sale, ODOT garage purchased

The mayor’s office and the city law office have moved from their 6 E. Second St. location to the new city hall building at 20 S. Walnut St. With the move, the city has put the 6 E. Second St. property up for sale. Sealed bids are due to the auditor’s office at 102 S. Main St. by 10 a.m. Dec. 18.

City officials will open the bids Dec. 18 and likely discuss them at the Dec. 20 council meeting. The sale will require council approval, according to Mayor Patrick Closser.

Council and some committees and boards will continue to hold meetings at the 6 E. Second St. building until the council chambers are completed at the new city hall. An exception: the city properties committee will meet at 20 S. Walnut St. at 7 p.m. Dec. 27.

Castle reported that the renovations at the new city hall are almost complete. Other departments are in the processing of making the move to the new space. Anyone is welcome to check out the new offices, Closser said. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

“It’s going to be something the city is going to be proud of,” Castle said.

In other property news, the city now owns the former Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) garage at 1416 U.S. Route 42. The sale price was $1.

The street department moved into the garage from its High Street location in October. The city leased the property from ODOT for $1 per month while deed questions were ironed out.

“We will be annexing that property into the city now that we are taking ownership,” Closser said.

Salary ranges

Council held a first reading on legislation to update salary ranges for department heads and non-union personnel. The proposal reflects a 3 percent raise over last year. The legislation will be back on the agenda at council’s Dec. 20 meeting.

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