Emergency Medical Services Tax To Go on November Ballot

Chuck Lackey, director of the Kern County Department of Engineering and Survey Services, reported the results of the ‘straw poll’ about emergency medical services in Pine Mountain on Tuesday, June 17.

He told the board of supervisors that 1,233 surveys were mailed to registered Kern County voters who live within the boundaries of County Service Area 40. Of those, 483 were returned to the county, about 39 percent.

The questions asked whether taxpayers are willing to pay an extra annual fee—in addition to their current county property taxes—for emergency medical services not being provided at this time by Kern County.

Lackey told the board that 145 voters, 30 percent, said they would pay for firefighter paramedics to be stationed in the area. A total of 85, or 18 percent, said they would pay for an additional ambulance to be stationed in Pine Mountain. Another 124, or 25.7 percent, said they would support both firefighter paramedics and an an ambulance service (Lackey stated in the meeting that this was 27 percent). Slightly more, 129, or 26.7 percent (which Lackey also stated as 27 percent), said they did not want to pay for any of the options.

Chair of the Board Michael Rubio was absent for the afternoon session June 17, but the remaining members voted unanimously to make preparations to put a question on the November general election ballot.

They discussed how to best direct county staff to formulate ballot language which will fairly represent the preferences shown in the survey.

Watson was uncertain how that would be accomplished. He asked Deputy County Counsel Steve Schuett if it was necessary to have only one measure on the ballot. Schuett said there could be multiple separate measure for voters to choose from.
The drawback to that plan, he said, is that splitting the votes between multiple options would make it unlikely that any one option would obtain the two-thirds of voters required by law to pass an additional property assessment for extended services.

The board of supervisors has until end of July to provide its proposed ballot language to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).

Interviews by The Mountain Enterprise with several people who said they voted for "no to all of the above," revealed that they were expressing a protest against being asked to pay a special assessment "for what other county taxpayers already expect to receive for their current tax dollars." Retired Atlantic Richfield financial manager Richard Gillies said he didn’t feel Pine Mountain should have to pay extra. Sharon Powell, R.N. said "It just isn’t fair, we already pay our county property taxes like everybody else, we should receive the same level of services as everybody else."

Reported by P. Hedlund and G. Meyer

This is part of the June 20, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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