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Voters in Dunn County to consider levy increase in Tuesday special ballot measure

The Killdeer Ambulance District is seeking a five mill property tax levy increase to support operations in Dunn County.

KAAS
A Killdeer Area Ambulance vehicle is pictured.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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Editor's Note: CORRECTION. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the measure had been approved for placement on the ballot by the Dunn County Commission. This was incorrect. The Dunn County commissioners were not the approving body for the measure.

KILLDEER, N.D. — A mill levy increase measure will provide voters with a say on a proposed 5 mill increase, via a special ballot on Tuesday, Aug. 9. If approved, the increased mills would cost property owners $22.50 in additional taxes for each $100,000 in assessed property value.

The proposed multi-year levy would support the Killdeer Area Ambulance Service, and would apply to those residing in the ambulance district, Dunn County Auditor and Treasurer Tracey Dolezal said.

Dolezal said the vote is being held expeditiously as municipal governments in North Dakota must complete budgeting in August to meet a September filing deadline established by the state. She explained that in order for the county to collect the taxes from that mill levy increase, should it pass, it would require approval now or they’d have to wait until the 2024 budgetary meetings.

The Killdeer Ambulance District is currently under audit by the state, but Dolezal, who is also board chairman of the Killdeer Ambulance District, said that the levy increase proposal is unrelated.

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“Ambulance services, fire districts and other government entities have to file an audit with the state every two years. We as the ambulance district didn't realize, or were never notified that we needed to do that,” she said of why the district is being audited. “So they got in touch with us last spring and we’ve been working with them.”

After this, read more Killdeer stories
Ashley Koffler returns to The Dickinson Press to cover county government, features and more. Koffler last worked for The Press in 2012 and is ready to share the latest news and views with readers.

She said that for many years the Dunn County Commission had supported the service with anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000 annually in funding, but that the service relied on additional funding from state and federal grants. The existing levy is five mills, which brings in roughly $245,000 each year.

Dolezal contends that doubling the levy figure would stabilize finances for the Killdeer Ambulance Service, which has an annual budget of more than $1.1 million at the current levels. KAAS has mutual aid agreements with the Mandaree and Halliday.

KAAS has five full-time paramedics and three full-time EMTs, as well as some part-time empoyees. The service provides care for approximately 800 square miles of Dunn County, in addition to portions of Billings and McKenzie Counties.

According to a brochure presented by KAAS in 2021, they received 642 calls for service — with 75% being to Dunn County residents.

“We’re fortunate... They love to come out here and work,” she said. “You go north of Killdeer and you’re 40 to 50 miles away from the hospitals. So having that advanced life support is critical.”

The ambulance service is currently experiencing financial struggles, including assertions that insurance companies are currently only reimbursing for service at a percentage that equates to less than 50% of costs. According to KAAS, more than $150,000 is written off as bad debt each year — prompting the mill levy increase proposal.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Killdeer Ambulance Hall located at 25 High St. in Killdeer. Voters are reminded to bring a valid form of identification.

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The wording of the ballot measure reads, “Shall the Killdeer Area Ambulance Service increase its tax levy by five mills, not to exceed a total of 10 mills for the purpose of the operation and maintenance of an Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service? Yes or No.”

For additional information on tax impact, KAAS budgetary information or any questions related to the special ballot, readers are encouraged to speak with Dolezal at 701-573-4446, or via email at tracey.dolezal@dunncountynd.org

Other stories by Jason O'Day
This year alone, Choice Bank has supported 12 North Dakota childcare providers with $100,000 in grant funding aimed at easing the strain of daycare shortages in rural areas.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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