Salaries for seven EMTs may be covered by new Winnebago County taxes

FOREST CITY — An Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council in Winnebago County is recommending a distribution plan for $487,000 in new revenue. That’s the amount expected to come from the new property tax levy and county income tax Winnebago County voters approved last November.

County Supervisor Bill Jensvold objected to having funds go to the county’s largest city, though, and the advisory council’s members quarreled. “This levy wasn’t meant to be a bailout of Forest City’s budget,” Jensvold said.

As other members responded with comments like, “That’s unfair” and “Stop it!” Jensvold replied: “I’m not going to stop it because I’m right!”

Another source of contention was where E-M-Ts and paramedics would be positioned. The Advisory Council eventually came up with a plan to distribute the new funding to the ambulance services in Forest City, Lake Mills and Buffalo Center. It would cover the salaries for three full or part-time EMTs that would work for all three services along with four full-time EMTs for Forest City’s ambulance service. The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors will vote on the plan.

A state law enacted a year ago lets county boards of supervisors put local tax referendums on the ballot to support local ambulance services. Voters in Jones, Kossuth, Pocahontas, Osceola and Winnebago Counties approved EMS referendums that were on the 2022 General Election ballot.