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Medical services money sought in Medina

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MEDINA — The city will ask for a 2.2-mill levy renewal and a 1-mill increase for the Life Support Team during the Nov. 5 general election.

Medina City Council passed a resolution by emergency clause Monday night to certify the 1-mill levy with the Medina County auditor’s office.

The current 2.2-mill levy is how Medina supports its share of the Life Support Team. It’s a property tax originally passed in 1999 that has been renewed every five years.

Because of a change in the state’s tax structure and increased expenditures, the Life Support Team has been running at a $15,000 to $20,000 deficit every month in the last year or so, City Finance Director Keith Dirham said.

The 1-mill increase would not kick in until 2021, Dirham said, and will generate about $581,000 per year in addition to about $1,028,700 generated with the original 2.2-mill levy.

The increase will cost an owner of a $100,000 home about $35 a year.

“We’ll continue to lose money before we get into ‘21,” he said. “(The 1-mill increase) should get us through 2026.”

Dirham said the last time the 2.2-mill levy was renewed was in 2014 when it received 75 percent of the vote.

“We’re essentially collecting 1999 dollars,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking for an increase this fall.”

The Life Support Team fund still has a surplus of about $1.2 million, but it’s not going to last much longer.

“We have to pass an increase because we don’t have enough money over the next five years,” Dirham said.

The Life Support Team offers emergency medical service for the city of Medina and Montville and Medina townships 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Both townships pay $65,000 a year.

“It’s a joint effort between the three communities and Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital,” Life Support Team Director Mark Phillips said. “It’s been around since 1976.”

He said the Life Support Team received about 3,700 calls in 1999. That increased to 4,509 calls in 2018, an average of one call every two hours.

Expenditures like a new ambulance continue to soar, Phillips said. An ambulance cost about $87,500 in 1999. Last year, one was purchased for $187,000.

Lifesaving technology in those ambulances is also improving, but at a cost.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Phillips said.

“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes involving many people and agencies for a successful outcome.”

Dirham said it’s costing more to do business and revenues have shrunk.

He said revenues are down, mostly because the state phased out the personal property tax. Now, just real property tax qualifies for collections on levies.

On levies that existed before the change in 2013, the state will continue to pay 10 percent of the tax bill for all property tax that is nonbusiness property and an additional 2.5 percent of the property tax on owner-occupied properties. New levies will no longer be subsidized.

Medina County Auditor Mike Kovack recommended to the city to do a renewal levy and an increase.

“It is very smart for the city of Medina to ask for a renewal and increase instead of a new levy,” he said in a statement provided by the city.

“This approach will save Medina city taxpayers approximately 10 percent on the new levy as the renewal portion will be subsidized by the state.”

This new levy wasn’t a surprise to City Council.

“We’ve seen this coming with our five-year (budget) projections,” Council President John Coyne said.

“We don’t have many options. Only thing would be to cut services and we don’t want to do that. This is a good solution.”

Ward 1 Councilman Bob Starcher, a former city policeman, said he’s seen what the Life Support Team does firsthand.

“It is second to none,” he said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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