Highland Council Continues Paramedic Assessment

The Highland City Council voted last week to perpetuate but not raise its 26-year-running paramedic tax.
The city will continue to collect the $19 per residence and $38 per business fee, which will generate roughly $351,000 in the 2012-13 fiscal year beginning July 1.
City officials maintain that the paramedic program provided through the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, with which the city contracts for fire protection, costs $1.2 million. The tax first imposed on Highland residents in 1986 before the city’s 1987 incorporation was intended to entirely defray the cost of the emergency medical service. The population within the city limits has doubled in the last quarter century to 53,104 and the cost of the program has escalated as well.
The city council last week discussed increasing the fee, with Mayor Larry McCallon most strongly in favor of raising the tax rate and asking voters to consider doing so on the ballot. Councilman John Timmer and councilwoman Jody Scott appeared to be the least enthusiastic about calling an election on the matter.
Scott said she thought more money to support the program could be recouped by having the paramedic vehicles transport patients to a hospital if further medical attention is necessary rather than allowing private ambulance companies to reap a profit by taxiing the patients to medical centers and then billing their insurance carriers.
The council voted unanimously to continue to levy the $19 and $38 annual charges.

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