Since 2000, Davis County taxes have been funding eight paramedic units for the county, despite the population increasing by 115,000 since then.
As the population continues to grow, county officials have determined the best solution is to “end the county-level paramedics program and its accompanying taxing structure, and expand service countywide by stationing paramedics only in local fire departments or districts, under their own taxing structures,” according to a Thursday morning statement from the Davis County Sheriff’s Department.
“It’s been only through a team effort that we got to this point,” says Curtis Koch, the county clerk/auditor. “It really is unique. It’s a unique challenge, and a unique solution.”
When you open your property tax notices at the end of July, officials explain you will see a schedule for public Truth in Taxation hearings set for August. Most of the hearings are driven by one encompassing issue – eliminating the county-level paramedics program.
Cities and fire districts will conduct individual hearings, according to county officials.
For the past two years, all 15 cities, two fire districts, and the county have been working toward a solution.
“Together, officials analyzed every option for the future of Davis County’s 45-year-old paramedics program, run by the Sheriff’s Office.”
County Commissioner Bob Stevenson says it will result in a jump from eight paramedic units to 11 countywide.
“The new model will create more access to elite service and expand our options as growth continues,” he adds.
A unit, officials explain, is whatever personnel and equipment it takes to have two paramedics on shift at all times. While paramedics will be based in various jurisdictions, Davis County authorities say they will be able to cross boundaries as needed.
These units will also help cut down on crews needing to come from further away cities, like learning your EMTs are traveling from Kaysville to Clinton during rush hour.
Some Davis County cities already have their own EMTs and ambulances, but have been using sheriff’s deputies as their higher-level paramedics. They will now need to hire their own paramedics and set up their own funding.
Other cities already have their own paramedics, but have been relying on county taxes to fund them under an old taxing agreement, officials say they will now need to set up their own funding. This includes Layton and South Davis Metro Fire (North Salt Lake, Woods Cross, Bountiful, West Bountiful, and Centerville).
Since 1976, Davis County Sheriff’s deputies have held a dual role as paramedics and law enforcement officers. Because their skill level requires extensive ongoing training and certification in both the medical field and law enforcement field, deputies have been working extra shifts and mandatory overtime.
“Those deputies have been doing Herculean effort,” Sheriff Kelly Sparks says. “And it’s more than we should realistically demand of anybody.”
The county’s paramedics program will conclude at the end of December 2022.
County taxes will still be needed for deputy salaries and equipment, which is the bulk of the cost of their program, according to officials. A percentage will be returned to Davis County residents.
The “Davis County paramedic” line will be wiped off property taxes starting this year, which will partially offset the increases by cities and fire districts.
According to county officials, about 26% of all incidents handled by deputies are medical. By removing their paramedic duties, deputies can increase patrolling, especially in underserved areas like unincorporated locations and the canyons.
Already this year, county deputies have been dispatched in about 1,000 assists to cities.
Below is a schedule of tax hearings related to paramedics.
Aug. 2: South Davis Metro Fire
Aug. 5: Layton
Aug. 10: Clinton, Syracuse
Aug. 12: North Davis Fire District
Aug. 17: South Weber, Farmington, Fruit Heights
Aug. 19: Kaysville
For specific tax information regarding paramedics funding, contact your city or fire district. For more on the paramedic program, visit the Davis County Sheriff’s Office website.