401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Tax question may be justified, but it's hardly fair

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Dear Editor:

When it was brought to my attention that the ambulance service in the North Fork area was proposing a property tax to help fund their services, I was not happy. Who wants their property taxes increased for whatever reason? However, I came to the point of fury when I read how these taxes would be assessed! It was the same old story, take it from the people who have the highest property assessments, because, obviously, they are the ones who have money. A very large assumption of which smacks of socialism. Well, I was not going to let this go without my comments.

First, those who have lived here for a number of years and are retired and possibly have their house paid off doesn't mean they can absorb higher taxes. I live in an area of custom homes, and though I have a nice piece of property, I'm struggling. My house is not paid off and for that matter not even completed inside.

Secondly, why is this country always having to increase taxes to help the irresponsible people who don't want to work? When is enough, enough? When do people reap what they sow? Frustrated and angry I started making some phone calls to understand the problems facing the N.F. Ambulance Service.

The North Fork Ambulance has five ambulances for all three areas: Crawford, Hotchkiss and Paonia. The most recent ambulance is 2009. The oldest is 1998. The cost of a new ambulance is $135,000. This is one problem facing this service as the oldest ambulance is eventually going to need to be replaced.

Another expense, although not exorbitant, is requiring two people per area as an EMT and driver. These people are paid to be on call for a 12-hour shift and another two people for the second shift for the remaining 12 hours. Since no one knows when a call comes through, they have to be ready for emergencies.

The North Fork has tried to stay afloat by sending annual letters asking for donations as follows: Senior citizens individual, $40; couple, $60; family, $75. Out of 5,600 mailers sent, only 1,800 people responded! I was informed that there are people who are here for only the summer and do not usually contribute since they are not permanent residents.

So then, I asked what age group called the most often for an ambulance. I was told that people over the age of 50. Under the age of 50 resulted in approximately 30 percent of calls. I had to push further. How many of these calls were really necessary? I was told probably around 60 percent. Since most people are usually not medically informed and educated as to the legitimacy of a medical emergency, they may panic and call 911.

The proposed property tax is expected at 5.75 mills. A "mill" is calculated at $1 for every $1,000. So, on a $10,000 assessment, one mill would be $10.00. At 5.75 mills, the tax would be $50.75. This could be an exponential cost for some people depending on their assessed value.

I was told that the necessary budget for the North Fork Ambulance Service is one million dollars! So even if everyone of the 5,600 mailers paid the minimum of $40 that would only bring in $224,000 -- far short of the necessary funding!

So what is the solution to this economic fiasco? I told the director that I felt there are too many people who do not contribute to society and drain the resources from others. Delta County is known to be a poor area. The question is why? Are there not enough jobs or people who just don't want to work. I was told by Home Depot when I complained about not being able to get help on repairs for my home that he heard that complaint often from contractors who couldn't get people to show up for work. So there are jobs available if people want to and are able to work.

The North Fork Ambulance is a worthwhile cause, but I am tired of being expected to pay for a service that others take advantage of and don't contribute. So what's the answer? What is fair for all?

Linda Petersen

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