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First responders support tax

October 02, 2019
Supporters of the public safety tax were almost exclusively those whose jobs are to protect the public.

County councilman Chad Riddle opened the hearing, explaining why the council was planning to establish the tax. He noted a financial expert has said the only way to maintain paramedic service in the county is to enact the public safety tax. While money was borrowed from other areas to start the service, "that's only a Band-Aid. .... robbing from other funds will hurt other services," he said.

He noted the county's inability to pay competitive wages means many choose to take jobs in adjoining counties for higher wages.

"It's not political," he said. "It's about the council working together to make things right."

Tim Farris, Crawford County EMS director, said without a hospital in the county, paramedic service is desperately needed. "We know we need it," he said.

Ray Saylor, Milltown town marshal and a school resource officer, said one thing he's learned in his 30-year career is "you've got to have a plan." Those plans often require pain and sacrifice. Having dealt with numerous deaths through the years, Saylor said the proposed public safety tax isn't about money; "it's about saving lives." Paramedic service increases the level of care, helping save more lives, he said.

Jim Uland, Leavenworth town marshal, said the public safety tax will help law enforcement and fire departments as well.

While grants and donations are helpful, Uland stressed those are not sustainable and can't be counted on to continue.

"You have to be able to budget," he said. "This would allow us to budget and plan without uncertainty. I urge you to vote for it and move public safety forward."

Marlin Heinlein, a member of the public who spoke, said, "All of us hate taxes. Not a single one of us wants to pay them, but sometimes you have to swallow the big, bad pill."

Heinlein said an older population has more health concerns, which means a good ambulance service and first responders are necessary. He noted when fire districts were established there were those who protested "but now we all love it."

Referring to the public safety tax, he said, "I don't want to pay taxes, but sometimes it's necessary. Pay it, get it over with and move on."

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