CLEARWATER — A proposal to create 22 individual taxing districts to help pay for Pinellas' emergency medical services system died when one county commissioner changed sides at the last moment.
Commissioner Karen Seel withdrew her motion to approve the proposal during Tuesday's meeting when she discovered the so-called subdistricts would not help shield the county in the event one of the fire districts won a lawsuit over EMS funding.
"Then I withdraw my motion," Seel said.
By doing so, she joined three other commissioners —Ken Welch, Nancy Bostock and John Morroni — in opposing the move..
Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala proposed the idea of the subdistricts as a fairer way to pay for EMS. Currently it's paid by a countywide tax. Under LaSala's proposal, property owners in the subdistrict would pay for the EMS budget of the fire department that provides EMS service to them.
Welch criticized the proposal because it would raise taxes in South Pinellas. In the Lealman area, for example, EMS taxes could have gone up 130 percent. In South Pasadena, they could have increased by about 90 percent.
He predicted that, should the commission charge individual rates, it would destroy the countywide EMS system.
"I think this is a terrible move for the county," Welch said. "You are moving towards a separated EMS system."
Reach Anne Lindberg at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.