MILTON-FREEWATER — Voters are one step closer to having a say in November on possible changes in their ambulance service district and an increase on their property taxes.

Milton-Freewater City Council Monday night passed a resolution that would disband the current ambulance district, create a new one, and tax $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed land value. The vote was unanimous except for Ward 2 Councilman Brad Humbert who abstained, according to Dan Kilmer, ambulance board chairman. Now the resolution will go to County Commissioners, who will take a second look at it Friday. If the commissioners also vote “yes,” the measure will go to voters on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Kilmer said he and other ambulance board members will draft documents for the commissioner’s meeting, which is taking place Friday because that is the last day for items to be submitted for the November ballot.

The current ambulance service rate of $0.25 per $1,000 of assessed land value was passed by voters in November 2011.

But ambulance district leaders have said that rate doesn’t provide enough money for its depleted fleet of vehicles and other items.

The current tax rate amount provided about $160,000 last year, Kilmer said. The proposed tax rate would provide about $923,000, he said, which is much needed as the district is operating in the red.

All three items — disbanding, creating a new district, and increasing the tax rate — must be approved by voters on the ballot, he said, for the rate to change. If just one of the measures fails, the current rate will remain in place.

Those interested in voicing their opinion on the proposal can go to the Umatilla County Commissioners meeting at 10 a.m. pon Friday in the Albee Room of the Milton-Freewater Public Library, 8 SW Eighth Ave.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.

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