Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 207
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for September 18, 2003

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

I read that the Ambulance Board is going to issue something called “certificates of participation” to pay for their new facilities. It appears that they’re going into debt in the amount of $760,000, without a vote of the people.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on the various ways that governments get around the requirement to have a public vote on incurring new debt, but this method is one I’ve never heard of. I searched Missouri Revised Statutes on the internet and only found one reference to these instruments, something to do with community colleges and job training grants. Section 190.065 authorizes ambulance boards to hold a bond election to buy property and equipment; I found no other authority to go into debt.

From what I’ve read, it appears the ambulance board has developed an effective service. However, I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the route they chose was the most effective use of taxpayer dollars. They were authorized to raise up to $1.1 million per year from property taxes to replace city-run services that were running a $600,000 per year deficit. Rather than contract with Warrensburg or other cities and use existing facilities, the board went with the maximum tax levy and created a service from scratch. They bought and/or built new facilities and new ambulances and hired a lot of people. Several months ago they were reported to have discussed a sales tax to supplement their tax funds. Meanwhile, they’ve only been able to collect 20% of about $500,000 they’re owed for their services to date.

The public is owed a detailed report of the ambulance board’s spending and budgets as well as an explanation of how they can incur debt without a vote.

For earlier comments about the Ambulance Board, see also Gadfly 183, Gadfly 174,Gadfly 166, Gadfly 155, Gadfly 155a, Gadfly 150, Gadfly 147

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