We urge Athens County voters to support two countywide tax issues on the Nov. 6 ballot. One is a renewal levy (0.5 mills) for Athens County Emergency Medical Services. The other is a 0.3-mill replacement levy for the Athens City-County Health Department.

The EMS levy would run for five years and raise around $490,000 every year, while the Health Department levy would raise around $321,000 annually.

Both levies will help these agencies continue to provide essential services with direct benefits to a wide cross-section of Athens County residents.

Athens County EMS staffs five stations in the county, providing emergency services 24/7. This tax levy and two others supplement revenues from patient billing. Without the tax levies, costs to patients would be much higher.

The City-County Health Department levy, if passed, will replace an existing levy that’s based on tax valuations from a decade ago. With many expenses going up, the amount raised by this levy just can’t keep up with rising costs of a wide range of expenses. Meanwhile, the small amount of state revenue allocated to the Health Department has declined gradually in the past 10 years.

Money from the Health Department’s three levies are supplemented by permit and license fees, grants, nursing service payments, contract services and fees for providing vital statistics (such as birth and death certificates). The City-County Health Department provides a number of essential services to county residents, including environmental health, public health nursing, vital statistics and health education.

We believe that supporting these relatively modest property tax levies is a no-brainer for county residents. Please vote yes on Issue 4 (EMS levy) and Issue 5 (Health Department).

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