County voters issue strong mandate for essential services

Voters overwhelmingly approve an EMS levy for ambulance service


LEE COUNTY – Lee County voters resoundingly said EMS ambulance services are essential services in the county.

Tuesday’s special election measure asked Lee County voters to make ambulance services in the county essential as allowed by state code, after a law was passed during the 2022 legislative session.

The measure passed with 76.4% of the support of 2,102 voters in voting Tuesday in Lee County.

Every one of the county’s ten precincts in the special election approved the measure with more than the state-mandated 60% +1 rule.

Lee County Supervisor Chairman Garry Seyb said he was humbled by the margin of support and said it validates the county’s work over the past two years.

“Very happy with voters’ decision. It’s going to help with ambulance service for at least the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s very encouraging that we’ll have that stability in purpose and focus for at least the next decade. It is considered an essential service now by the voters.”

Fort Madison, which had a single polling place at the Public Library, passed the measure with a 343-77 margin of more than 81%.

Keokuk, with three polling locations within city limits, combined to pass the essential services vote with a total vote of 449-105 or 81%. The city has been without an emergency room service locally for the past five months.

Seyb said there was no intentionality to the added Keokuk polling locations, saying the county had taxpayers in mind. He said there is also a precedent of running one polling place in Fort Madison.

“What we were looking at, I know I was, was the cost-savings measure, and not how many precincts were in either city. If we’re going to run all of the polling sites, that’s an additional cost factor. And we’re looking at savings wherever we can for the taxpayers,” he said.

“It’s something we can look at in the future and try to remedy. In hindsight, it’s something, but there was no intentionality there. It was purely a cost-savings measure.”

The measure will allow a county panel to set an EMS essential services levy in place for the next 10 years. Director Mark Long said that will generate about $1.2 million per year based on current estimates if the panel sets the levy at the maximum 75 cents/$1,000 of assessed valuation.

The county is projecting expenses at about $4.5 million for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023. Revenues through billing and the state’s Ground Emergency Medical Transport subsidy for public ambulance services are projected at about $2.4 million.

Seyb said the large margin of victory in the measure shows the voters have spoken.

“I believe this gives the board its marching orders regarding the EMS to citizens of Lee County. I hear you,” he said.

“I've got to be honest with you, this helps validate what the board’s been doing for the past two years. The focus it took when we saw the financial collapse of an EMS service that provided service for 25 years and did so very well.

“But it’s a sign of the times. (The county) cannot rely on a private service to provide EMS service that county voters said is essential. This is an inspiring validation and a mandate of what it must do going forward.”

Lee County, essential services, levy, Fort Madison, Keokuk, ambulance, Pen City Current, news, Garry Seyb, taxes


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here