Residents in a southeast Iowa county will soon vote on a plan to use property taxes to cover emergency medical services. The Lee County Board of Supervisors has set March 7th as the date for a referendum on a new property tax levy.

Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise says this would help the county pay the nine EMS employees hired last fall after Blessing Health closed its hospital in Keokuk.

“This is a way to get a steady funding stream into a fund that’s separate from our general basic fund that we can only use on this ambulance service,” Fraise says.

Like the bond election, 60% of voters must approve the new levy before it would take effect in September’s property tax bills. A new law that took effect last year lets county boards of supervisors propose property tax levies to support local ambulance services. In November, voters in Jones, Kossuth, Pocahontas, Osceola, and Winnebago Counties approved EMS referendums. Voters in Calhoun, Floyd, and Worth Counties defeated referendums to raise local taxes for ambulance services.

(By Will Buss, Tri-States Public Radio)

Radio Iowa