By Jean A. Flanagan
Moorefield Examiner –
As the complaints about the recently enacted ambulance fee continue to stream into the Hardy County Commission, Commission President J. Michael Teets floated the idea of a levy to be included on the May Primary ballot.
The commission met on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Joanne Hesse asked why the citizens of Hardy County had not been told about the $1 million fine the Mathias Baker Rescue Squad was forced to pay.
Teets told her the investigation and fine happened two years ago and was widely reported in the press.
Hesse repeated rumors she had heard about the MBRS’s mismanagement of funds. “And you want to hand more money over to them?” she asked.
Teets assured her the ambulance authority was a different organization and money collected from the ambulance fee would be monitored. “They will be audited,” he said.
“So what about this tax?” Hesse asked.
“We passed that a month ago,” Teets said.
“You know, some people have more going out in a month than they have coming in,” Hesse said.
Teets said if a levy is passed, residents of the county won’t have to pay the $10 per month fee. If it doesn’t pass, they will be responsible for paying the fee.
Roger Ours, owner of 10 rental mobile homes asked why landlords must pay the ambulance fee for their tenants. “If businesses are exempt from the ambulance fee, why are landlords expected to collect it when we’re a business?” he asked.
Ours said electricity is in his name until someone moves into one of his trailers. The tenants have two days to put their name on the account.
“Why can’t we give you a list of names and you bill them directly?” he asked. “The electric company does it that way and they are bigger than the county commission.”
Teets said people come and go from rental units. “It would be a bookkeeping nightmare for the county,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s fair for you to make us collect that money,” Ours said. “We go the extra mile to make money. The only problem you have (with renters) is you can’t attach property because they don’t have any.”
“If we went to a levy, you would pass it on then,” Teets said. “Why not now?”
“Because the state says I have to pay the levy,” Ours said. “You are only suggesting we pay this fee.”
“The Attorney General’s opinion says that the fee is based on households,” Commissioner A. J. Wade said. “I’m in agreement with you. But there would be difficulty in keeping track.”
Wade commented on a recent letter to the editor in the Moorefield Examiner. The writer said the $120 per year ambulance fee was 25 percent of his property taxes. “With a tax levy, his taxes would only increase by $15,” Wade said.
The public would need to be educated about why a levy is necessary, Wade said…