EMS district targeting 2.7 to 2.9 mill levy for November ballot

Though a full plan for voters is not quite ready, EMS district has a mill levy in mind to ask voters to approve in November election

The proposed Moffat County Health Services (EMS) District in Moffat County is targeting a 2.7 to 2.9 mill levy to take to voters come November in hopes of securing tax payer funding for an essential service in Moffat County.

According to Memorial Regional Health Chief Financial Officer and EMS Task Force board member Sam Radke, the district has worked between a 2.5 and 3.3 mill levy, but is currently targeting an ask of a 2.7 mill levy from Moffat County voters to provide funding for the proposed Moffat County Health Services EMS District, which should help eliminate unstable, fragmented care through an essential service to all 4,754 square-miles of the county.

“What we’re asking for from you, the taxpayer, is less than a cup of coffee once a month, so roughly $40 a year,” Radke said in a March 9 interview. “If the tax payers in the county would just contribute that much, we can make this operation be in the black and make it sustain itself for the next 10 years. I think that’s a reasonable request, just $40 a year. Now, that number is not totally finalized just yet, but that’s what we’re looking at.”

Though the proposed district has a mill levy in mind, the task force continues to finalize plans to roll out the official campaign information, with a target date of May 1 to communicate the plan to the community.

“We think that’s the number that will do it,” Radke said. “It’s less than 3 mills, and less than what hospital gets from taxpayers, and it’s long term and considers long-term factors.”

According to Radke, the long-term forecast for the proposed EMS district has taken into account the impending closures of Trapper and ColoWyo mines, as well as Craig Station.

“There’s enough money in there in my 10-year forecast with the mine and power plant shutting down an estimated 36% drop in assessed property valuation that we can still sustain it without going back to the voters at a future date,” Radke said.

The need for a mill levy and an ask for the taxpayers is largely due to the need to stabilize and consolidate EMS services across the county. Currently, EMS services are provided by four separate entities..

The need for a mill levy and an ask for the taxpayers is largely due to not only the unstable, fragmented care, but the significant loss the hospital endures each year.

“EMS services throughout the county are losing money hand over fist,” Radke said. “If you were to look at other communities, they’re losing money on EMS too. Many rural communities rely on the tax payers to kick in a little bit of money with that funding. Here, it’s been passed around from the county, the city, fire district, to us. We have to figure something out to solve this financial issue.”

EMS first started in Craig in 1920 through Craig Fire/Rescue, which was under city management. After being unable to sustain EMS financially, management was transferred to the Moffat County commissioners in 1952, where EMS lived until 1990 when it was transferred to Memorial Regional Health.

In 2020 alone, Memorial Regional Health’s EMS division lost more than $675,000.

As far as where the proposed district would be based, Radke said its still being discussed. If the funding request is approved by voters, MRH plans to transfer all EMS assets to the district. MRH would not have any financial stake in the newly formed district.

“It is possible that EMS services would operate out of here; Simply put, this is the best home for it. However, it will be a separate entity,” Radke said. “There will be better service if they’re based here. If they’re here in the building, that’s for the best, and most clinical people will say the same thing.

“That said, it would be a different board from the hospital’s board. We know people are opposed to giving more money to the hospital, but the hospital will have nothing to do with it,” Radke added. “The hospital board will be a separate entity for the EMS district, with the sole focus on EMS and what’s best for EMS services in Moffat County. We think that’s the best in the long haul, not focusing on fire or the hospital; it’s EMS only.”

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