Voters approve Gillespie-Benld, Prarieland ambulance questions
By: JACKSON WILSON
Coal Country Times Reporter
Once the votes from 62 different precincts were counted, it was declared that the Gillespie-Benld and Prarieland areas would be providing new special service coverage.
The vast majority of voters within the Carlinville, Gillespie, Girard and Virden fire protection districts were in favor of the change.
“The main question that was asked to the voters was whether the county board should establish what was called a special service area tax, with that special service being ambulance coverage,” said Joshua Ross of the Gillespie-Benld Ambulance Service. “Now, the Macoupin County Board will have to basically take that under advisement and it is our assumption that they will go forward with it passing in both areas.”
Of the 4,199 ballots casted in the Carlinville fire protection district area, 2,557 (60.9 percent) voted ‘yes.’
A total of 2,021 (58.7 percent) among 3,443 Gillespie Unit No. 7 fire protection district residents voted ‘yes.’
There was 1,261 (69.75 percent) of 1,808 Girard fire protection ballots voting ‘yes.’
Virden’s result indicated a wide margin of 1,145 votes (69.86 percent) of ‘yes’ within a 1,639 ballot count.
Originally, a proposal was presented to the Macoupin County Board that indicated the idea of having a county-wide emergency medical service tax. The proposal was turned down, therefore leading to the creation of an ambulance service pair – Gillespie-Benld and Prarieland.
Gillespie-Benld helped cover the Carlinville fire protection district along with the Unit No. 7 one which covered Gillespie, Benld, Dorchester and Wilsonville. Prarieland was made up of the Girard and Virden fire protection districts.
The new modification includes the creation of new special service areas to go along with the three that had already existed within Macoupin County.
Area no. 1 was established under the Mt. Olive Area Ambulance, which became defunct in 2009 prior to having the area covered by Gillespie-Benld upon the signing of a county board agreement.
Area no. 2 covers Bunker Hill and area no. 3 covers Staunton.
Gillespie-Benld and Prarieland will be the fourth and fifth areas with this type of coverage.
Gillespie-Benld will cover Gillespie, Benld, East Gillespie, Dorchester, Eagarville, Wilsonville and Sawyerville.
To the north, Carlinville, Nilwood and Standard City will be added to the Prairieland service radar.
“Nothing’s really different as far as coverage goes except that it will establish a property tax levy of .35 percent,” said Ross. “We are all not-for-profit ambulance providers so we have no tax levy abilities. We’re not a district. We’re not a municipality. We’re private not-for-profit.”
Ross believes that the Macoupin County Board will establish this special area service tax and hold a small portion back to cover administrative costs.
“Whenever the tax revenue is collected, this .35 percentage will be distributed to us and to Prairieland Ambulance so we can take care of any operation costs or expenses,” said Ross.