On Nov. 6, voters overwhelmingly approved the establishment of a special district for the North Fork Ambulance. Just over 83 percent of Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford area voters said "yes" to the special district. By a smaller, yet still very favorable margin, a mill levy of 5.750 was established to fund the special district. Five board members were selected -- Gregg Angelovich, Marcus Roeder and Daniel Miller for four-year terms, and Larry Hughes and Bonnie Eisenberg for two-year terms.
After the results were posted, the North Fork Ambulance board of directors expressed its appreciation for the overwhelming support.
"The formation and funding of a special district will provide the core financial support needed to maintain quality ambulance service in three communities, upgrade and replace aging equipment and ambulances and retain and attract on-call staff members and provide them with quality EMS training," said Kathy Steckel, NFA director.
The ambulance service is responsible for responding to all 9-1-1 calls in a 1,500-square-mile area over three counties as well as maintaining three stations in the region.
Steckel said, "North Fork Ambulance board members have been researching options for financial sustainability since 2015. Through financial analysis, it became clear that the best solution to sustain quality ambulance service now and into the future was through the formation of a special district."
A membership program previously sustained operations. Steckel said that program remains in effect, with benefits for members who are transported, until the special district takes over actual ambulance operations. Because this transition could take three to six months, the board is encouraging local residents and businesses to send in their membership renewals or become members today.
Steckel explained, "It is the intention of the board to maintain the nonprofit designation for the North Fork Ambulance, separate of the new special district, to serve as a support organization for EMS in the North Fork Valley, similar to a 'Friends of the Library' group. If it is permissible for the nonprofit to offer a membership once the special district begins to operate, it is possible memberships could remain in place. If not permissible, prorated refunds will be offered to any current members."
The board will update the public as the information becomes available. Current information and membership applications can be found on the NFA website, www.northforkambulance.com or by calling 872-4303.