The formation of a Lennox Ambulance District had the support of the Council on Monday night’s meeting.
With their support, Lennox City Administrator Nathan Vander Plaats will start the next step in the process — reaching out to Lincoln and Turner County. The process of forming an Ambulance District is a lengthy one.
Currently, the City of Lennox bears all financial responsibility for the Lennox Ambulance Services, despite services being provided to other towns and townships, as shown in the Lennox Ambulance Territory map. The creation of an Ambulance District would spread the cost to all who are served by the District. Although, as Mayor Stacy DuChene pointed out in Monday’s meeting, the citizens of Lennox personally would pay more in taxes.
By establishing an Ambulance District, it would establish a new taxing jurisdiction, in which the district establishes and assesses a tax levy against every property contained within that district, and in which the district may assess a capital tax levy and special assessments.
According to a memo provided by Vander Plaats to City Council members, “The establishment of an ambulance district would accomplish the primary objective sought by the City of Lennox – to enact an arrangement in which all who benefit from a public good to share in the cost of funding that public good. However, in order to be a viable solution, the establishment of a district must also provide sufficient funding to offset operating losses and capital needs (approximately $50,000 per year).
“SDCL 34-11A limits the property tax and capital outlay levies at $0.60/$1000 and $0.40/$1000, respectively. In Lennox alone, assessed property values total approximately $140,000,000. Based on those property values, such a levy would generate a maximum of approximately $80,000, with a property of $150,000 being assessed a tax of $90.00. When that levy includes the other towns and townships served outside of Lennox, the maximum increases while the levy to Lennox taxpayers decreases as the size of the territory grows.”
Vander Plaats has been tasked with the next step in the process, meeting with the counties to be included in the district, as well as the Cities of Worthing and Chancellor. Then the issue would be petitioned by voters or approved by resolution by county commissioners and City Councils/Commissions of the cities.
After which, the county auditors in each county would designate a time and place for a public hearing before a joint meeting of the Turner and Lincoln County Commissions. Commissioners of each county determine if the formation of the district is suitable, then there is an election for voters with the question of forming the district.
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