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Reimbursement reduction has hurt NRAD finances
Ambulance district will seek 15 cent levy increase

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Proponents say a quality, district-wide ambulance service may be in question, if an issue on the April ballot is not supported by residents serviced by the Northland Regional Ambulance District (NRAD).

NRAD, which services the communities of Platte City, Smithville, Camden Point, Dearborn and the surrounding unincorporated area, is asking voters to approve a 15 cent levy increase this spring. The question must pass by a simple majority.

“The board of directors was hoping they wouldn’t have to go to taxpayers, but unfortunately that’s what it’s come down to,” said NRAD interim director Joe Coons.

“We haven’t had to ask for a tax increase since the district was formed on Sept. 1, 1994. However, the growth of the area has increased significantly and our need has risen.”

Actually, the district asked voters for a 10 cent tax levy increase last August. The issue was defeated by a count of 709 opposed to only 443 in favor.

Currently the district’s levy is at .2886 per $100 of assessed valuation. If the proposed question is passed by voters in April, NRAD’s new levy will be established at .4366 per $100 of assessed valuation.

According to Coons, the board considered several factors before deciding on the 15 cent levy question.

“We looked at what the cost trends have become and we feel that (a 15 cent increase) will hold us for several years and that we won’t have to go back to taxpayers in the next few years to ask for more,” he said.

“The Hancock Amendment limits our tax base growth to two percent and rolls our tax levy back. When we first started, our levy was .30 cents per $100, now we’re at .2886.”

Coons added: “Everything’s gone up. The cost of medical supplies, the cost of fuel and our demand has gone up. The federal government has cut Medicare reimbursement and state government has cut Medicaid reimbursement—all that filters down to us.”

Charlene Bruce, president of the board of directors for NRAD, agreed with Coons.

“This is the last thing the board wanted to do and we felt like we had done everthing we could do to try and not do this. We don’t think we could have cut services anymore than what we already have,” Bruce said.

With the voters' approval at the polls in April, Coons said it will help ensure NRAD’s service to the citizens of Platte County.

“It will give our budget a little boost to improve services and allow us to continue to get to everyone in a timely manner,” he said. “A lot of people don’t think about an ambulance until they need it. We’re trying to make them aware of the need for that service before the need arises to dial 9-1-1.


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