Health District discussion continues before County Commissioners |

Health District discussion continues before County Commissioners

Issue likely to appear on November’s ballot

Darian Armer
For the Craig Press
The sign above the entrance to the Emergency Department at Memorial Regional Health in Craig.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

The future of ambulance service in the county might soon be in voters’ hands.

The newly proposed Moffat County Health District would cost taxpayers in Moffat County about $35 annually for a household with an actual value of $200,000, and $145 annually for a business owner whose business has an actual value of $200,000. That’s if the if the maximum 2.5 mill levy passes. It would also keep 24/7 emergency medical services available to residents into the future.

If the mill levy passes, the new Health District would raise just over $1 million. The Health District would be voted on in November whether to form the district, fund the district and elect the board.

Sam Radke, Chief Financial Officer for Memorial Regional Health, presented the Health District Plan to the Moffat County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, June 8, saying the formation of the district was long overdue.

“We formed the idea in late 2020 to provide long-term for the financial future of Moffat County EMS with equal contribution from Moffat County, the City of Craig, Moffat Fire District and Memorial Regional Health,” Radke said. “Like almost all EMS services in Colorado, we operate at a significant loss. The current losses are more than $600,000 a year, and that’s climbing annually. The MRH Board of Trustees says it’s not possible to sustain these losses year after year without a more viable financial plan.”

Currently, EMS services are splintered across the county and three agencies, Radke went on to say. In Dinosaur, he pointed out there is no ambulance service. Many county residents must be served, he said, from out of the county or even out of state when they have emergency medical issues.

“The residents of Moffat County need and deserve a reliable and efficient emergency response service to keep community and visitors safe,” Radke said.

The Health District is proposing an independent agency separate from the fire district, MRH and the county.

The Health District would equip every ambulance with the necessary tools to respond to any emergency, as well expand and provide much needed resources to remote and rural areas of the county.

“This would keep our community safe, give residents control over our resources and provide much needed stability and efficiency to our emergency response system,” Radke said.

The Health District would have its own board and revenue stream, funded by the 2.5 mils from Moffat County residents’ property taxes.

“In our 10-year financial forecast we have accounted for future anticipated decreases in assessed valuation caused by the power plant and mine closures. The plan covers basic operations only without taking on any significant debt. This is a conservative approach to ensure EMS for our residents and visitors,” Radke said.

Radke says the health district will improve services in all three areas of the county with uniform education and training.

Chris Nichols, representing the Fire Protection District, outlined the fire district’s support for the proposed Health District. Nichols says the fire district simply doesn’t cover all the area EMS is required.

“We’ve had the question asked throughout the community, ‘Why can’t the fire district provide these services for EMS?’ And there are many reasons. One is that we are one of four funding agencies responsible for creating a sustainable EMS district,” said Nichols.

The fire district also does not cover the entirety of Moffat County. It only covers about 180 square miles out of the 4,751-square-mile county.

“It will promote efficiency through streamlined operations like billing, and more importantly, will provide necessary equipment to every ambulance to respond to any emergency and most of all, it will provide dependable emergency services and promote community health through a community-wide entity,” Radke said.

The commissioners voted to consider putting the district’s proposal on the ballot at a future meeting.

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