MF Ambulance District

A pair of the district’s ambulances sits outside the Milton-Freewater Rural Fire District fire station on Tuesday afternoon.

No one likes to pay more taxes. Let’s face it, for most of us, the prospect of another government entity reaching into our wallets or purses for more cash is an unpleasant prospect.

Yet when it comes to providing cash for emergency services — such as firemen, police officers and ambulance services — the reality is voters often face little choice.

Voters in the Milton-Freewater area may be required to tackle another difficult funding challenge this fall if local officials can craft a ballot measure in time to provide more funding for the city’s emergency medical services.

Late last month board members of the Milton-Freewater Ambulance Service Area Health District met with county commissioners to chat about the formation of a new ambulance district because of a lack of funds.

The new district would cover the city and boost the permanent tax rate from 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to a yet undetermined new rate.

Before anything happens, though, the ambulance board must secure the OK from the city council for the idea.

The ambulance board’s treasurer, George White, said recently in an article in this newspaper that ambulance service can’t survive without more funds.

The issue revolving around the city’s medical services is not an unfamiliar one for small cities scattered across Eastern Oregon. In a real way those who provide such services and those who pay — taxpayers — face a Faustian bargain in such matters. On one hand, citizens in the small towns across the region often already feel as if they are paying too much in taxes. On the other side of the coin is the very real need for emergency services. Obviously, it would be nice if we never had to worry about police, fire or ambulance services but the reality is we have to have all three. People get sick or are injured. Fires erupt and criminals exist.

Rarely would we advocate more taxes. However, emergency services are critical to the health of any community. The truth is we have to have police, firefighters and trained medical personnel to serve our great community and we have to pay for them.

Area officials need to quickly develop a plan about how to pay for the new ambulance service district in Milton-Freewater and then quickly — but efficiently — explain why it is necessary for taxpayers. That doesn’t mean hosting a single public meeting. It means sponsoring several public meetings to explain the need.

Taxpayers will pay for added services — but only if the need is clear. On this issue, we believe the need is not only clear but crucial.

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