Farmington passes property tax increase to pay for six full-time paramedicsSep 02, 2021 10:58AM ● By Wayne Kartchner
Davis County has been providing paramedic services for more than 45 years. That will now shift to the individual cities.
At the Truth and Taxation Hearing held on Aug. 17, the Farmington City Council voted unanimously to increase property taxes. The new funds raised will be used to pay the salary of six paramedics.
Davis County has provided paramedic services since the 1970s. However, the county will no longer be providing paramedic service and cities in the county need to pick up the cost. The county will be lowering property tax and Farmington will be raising taxes.
The net increase for an average home value of $494,000 will be approximately $43. Next year the bond for the police station will be paid off. If nothing is done next year Farmington property tax will be reduced on that same home by about $33, said Financial Director Greg Davis.
“Why property tax and not a sales tax increase?” asked City Council member Scott Isaacson. City Manager Shane Pace explained that property tax is more stable. “Last year with the pandemic, sales tax revenue was greatly affected.”
“It (the tax increase) is a large undertaking and we don't take it lightly,” said Mayor Jim Talbot.
“Davis County has provided over 45 years of paramedic services (for our city),” said Farmington Fire Chief Guido Smith. “They have done a great job.”
The Farmington Fire Department has four people at the fire station 24 hours a day seven days a week he said. Three people are full-time positions and one position is part-time. All four of these firefighters also have advanced EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training.
“What this staffing addition will do is to put six bodies in the station,” said Smith. “So, we will increase the staffing by two paramedics on each of the three shifts. We have additional staff that we are paying to go through paramedic school. Our eventual goal is to have four paramedics on every shift. That way if we get two back-to-back calls, we will be able to respond."
The tax increase will be used exclusively to pay for the salaries of the two additional paramedics. It will not be used to buy any equipment needed by the paramedics. The additional equipment needed will come from existing funds.
The total salary for all six full-time paramedics is expected to be $566,000. “Our budget could not absorb that cost,” Davis said. “We have no choice [about hiring the paramedics] since the county is discontinuing paramedic service.”
“How are we going to handle wage increases?” said Farmington resident Connie Deianni. New residential and business construction would bring additional revenue, Davis said.
Chris Monroe and Dave Tate both expressed concern that Farmington needed a fire station on the west side of Farmington.
“In the last several years the center of Farmington has moved to the west and there is a need for a station on the west side,” Pace said. “Fortunately, the city has a six-acre piece of property available on the west side that might be available for a fire station. Until a new station is built, we have a substation at the city shop with a firetruck. It is not staffed.”
Pace said the firetruck is stationed there so that there will be a truck available if access is cut between east and west Farmington.