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Chillicothe Times-Bulletin - Chillicothe, IL
  • City referendum on ambulance service levy narrowly defeated

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  • The difference in the city referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot in not being able to add an ambulance service line to its tax levy was 42 votes.
    The close vote came to almost 51 percent against the measure — 1,270 votes — to the 1,228 votes for the measure.
    Looking at the early votes cast, the referendum looked like it would pass, Mayor Troy Childers Sr. said.
    “When Rescue 33 denounced it, that killed it,” said Childers.
    There are no plans yet to try the referendum again, Childers said, and it leaves the city in a bad position should Rescue 33 not be able to operate again.
    The Chillicothe City Council approved putting the question on the ballot months ago in preparing for the “worst-case scenario” after Rescue 33’s ambulance license was permanently suspended in early September.
    Due to not knowing how much money would be needed, city officials offered a percentage range, up to 0.25 percent. On the high end, depending on many factors, the city could have generated roughly $200,000 to $235,000. A homeowner with a $100,000 home at fair market value would have paid about $85 at the top end of the levy.
    Rescue 33 is working on a plan to get back to serving the community, and before the election, officials released information that the squad was not supporting the tax referendum as they said their plans did not include needing tax money.
    Additionally, the areas outside of the city also would have needed to find some sort of payment as well.
    “We’re looking forward to a successful run with Rescue 33,” said Childers.
    Right now, Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois is stationed in Chillicothe, but Childers is concerned for the ambulance service’s future as 85 percent of emergency calls have vanished. The only money AMT is receiving in Chillicothe is the money the company charges per call from the patient.
    “I think that if Rescue 33 is now successful and has plenty of money to operate, then they need to support some kind of ambulance service until they come back,” said Childers if AMT would leave the community.

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