Lake Ozark Fire Protection District (LOFPD) Chief Mark Amsinger recently showed up at the Lake Ozark and Village of Four Seasons board meetings to ask for support of the newly proposed tax levy to help his district. The tax levy will be on the ballot for the upcoming August 7, 2018, election.

Lake Ozark Fire Protection District (LOFPD) Chief Mark Amsinger recently showed up at the Lake Ozark and Village of Four Seasons board meetings to ask for support of the newly proposed tax levy to help his district. The tax levy will be on the ballot for the upcoming August 7, 2018, election.

Dispersing flyers, educating the public, answering questions and trying to spread the word about what the levy would entail has been Amsinger's most recent goal.

Amsinger said that the request for new funds would be to add a new ambulance and maintain upkeep on the already existing fleet of ambulance's to better serve the community in which they serve.

The LOFPD covers over 42.5 square miles and in addition provide back-up services to Miller County and Osage Beach. The district has also seen a 57 percent increase in medical emergency calls since they started running the ambulance service in 1999.

"These funds would be used to support the ambulance budget, because currently the fire budget is being used to cover some of the expenditures that the ambulance budget cannot cover. The new levy would allow the ambulance budget to absorb an equal amount of the expenditures which will in turn allow the fire budget to continue to support fire and rescue operations," stated Amsinger.

Amsinger stated the current cost to replace an ambulance is $235,000, which is a large increase from the district's first purchases of two ambulances for $99,000 in 1999. The LOFPD has not asked for any new tax dollars since voters approved the last levy in 2000.

The current ambulances are aging and have 40,000-100,000 miles per vehicle. The two reserve ambulances are 14 and 18 years old and both have over 120,000 miles on them. The district's long term goal is to be able to replace an ambulance every 5-7 years and to move a front-line ambulance to reserve status with under 100,000 miles. Amsinger stated the district will also need to replace two ambulances over the next three years to have a sound back-up ambulance in the reserve role when one goes out for maintenance.

According to information provided by the LOFPD, the assessed valuation for the fire district has remained flat over the past 17 years, however their costs have increased dramatically.

The district is currently at the same levy amount that was passed when the ambulance service was put on the ballot in 2000 (which is .30 cents per $100 of assessed value.)

As part of the ambulance service, district residents are not required to cover their deductible. All patients are billed, however residents are not required to pay above their deductive as it's covered by the taxes they pay.

The LOFPD ambulances are run in Advanced Life Support status at all times. This means a paramedic is always on the truck. In addition, a paramedic is also sent out on the first-out apparatus.

In order to better their response time, their goal is to have a third ambulance in place within the next year. There would then be an ambulance at each fire station.

Amsinger stated that this would require six additional staff members to be hired and approximately $350,000 of annual pay and benefits. There are also costs associated with fuel, maintenance and insurance to keep the ambulance in service.

The LOFPD would also use the money to replace decade old cardiac monitors that are nearing the end of their life span. Cardiac monitors run in the ballpark of $40,000 each.

Amsinger also stated that if the levy passes, residents will be soft billed; meaning that a bill is sent to their insurance for payment. Residents will not be required to pay their deductible or co-insurance. The district would use the property taxes paid by the resident in lieu of the deductible.

"We're lucky to have a great community that supports us and we hope they will consider this new levy to better our service to the area," stated Amsinger.

On the ballot, voters will be prompted to vote either 'yes' or 'no' to the newly proposed levy. Though the title of the issue may appear differently in Miller County than in Camden County, the verbiage will remain the same as follows: Shall the Board of Directors of the Lake Ozark Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than thirty cents (.30) per one hundred dollars assessed valuation for the support of the District's ambulance service.

Voters with additional questions are asked to call Fire Chief Mark Amsinger or Assistant Chief Matt Birdsley at the LOFPD office at (573) 365-3380.