September 17, 2021
Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners
I am sure you have been following the quest to secure a 24/7 transport ambulance service for Blowing Rock.
As mentioned in our post on August 6th, we would like to share your opinion with the Town Council. After you read the DISCUSSION below, please REPLY to email@example.com with a YES or NO response to the following survey question:
Do you support a compromise subsidy to fund a 24/7 transport ambulance dedicated to serve the Town of Blowing Rock and the Blowing Rock Fire District?
Comments with your reply are welcome. We will not share your name.
In October, the Town Council will be considering next steps to negotiate with the County to provide a 24/7 transport ambulance stationed in Blowing Rock.
As the primary taxpayers and citizens who need 24/7 transport ambulance service, the Town Council needs to hear your opinion since the proposal under consideration will require a subsidy to the County funded by the Town and Fire District.
The state delegates transport ambulance service to the County, and the County contracts for ambulance service to a private for-profit company which hampers expansion. The County measures success by only one factor based on the average response time throughout the County. The best practice is to set a success two factors that drive quality – Reach 90% within 9 minutes.
The ambulance systems is based in Boone, so other parts of the County like Blowing Rock do not have adequate service. For example, response time to Boone is 6 minutes but 12 minutes to Blowing Rock and worse throughout the County. The County is asking other areas to subsidize the County system, but is not requesting Boone to subsidize their service.
After we raised the issue again last summer, the Town and County are in negotiations to figure out how to provide 24/7 ambulance and team stationed in Blowing Rock to serve Blowing Rock and the Blowing Rock Fire District (50 square miles). Recently, Beech Mountain agreed to subsidize 24/7 ambulance service for their citizens.
Some argue that we should not compromise to pay a subsidy to the County under the “Double Taxation” principle. Others argue that the cost of subsidy is a minor cost to pay to remove the risk to our healthcare.
We have advocated supporting a compromise solution requiring the Town and Fire District to subsidize the cost of providing 24/7 transport ambulance service
Watauga Medics provided a cost estimate of approximately $500,000 which gives the Town a starting point for negotiating a contract with the County.
We recommended that the Town and Fire District share equally in funding the increased cost. Since the County already provides a 9/5 transport ambulance, the County should continue to fund at least 25% of the cost.
A key condition of the new commitment should include restricting the use of dedicated transport ambulance for convalescence trips.
So, what does this mean to you as taxpayers?
The worst case scenario is that the Town would be required to fund 50% of the cost or $250,000 with property taxes. This is not probable since the County already funds 25% of the cost by providing a 9/5 transport ambulance and the probability that other sources of revenue will be available to the Town.
So, the worst case scenario is that the Town would assess 2 cents of property taxes to fund $250,000. The cost to homeowners could be $100 per year for a house valued at $500,000, but probably less.
We hope the survey and background discussion will help you help the Town Council negotiate a solution to this long term problem.