Fire/EMS Ballot Issue

On December 27, 2017, Hudson City Council passed Ordinance No. 17-115 to submit to the electors the questions of whether to re-designate municipal income tax revenues to combine the previously designated funding to the Hudson Fire Department and Hudson Emergency Medical Services (EMS) into one fund. The Issue will appear on the May 8, 2018 Ohio primary election ballot. The following background and information is provided to inform voters.

What is the Ballot Issue?

This ballot issue is not a new tax. Instead, it would reallocate a portion of the income tax approved by voters in 2004 as part of Issue 3.

In 2004, voters approved Issue 3, a 1% income tax increase designated to provide funds for Hudson Fire, EMS, Parks, and general operations and capital improvements including storm water and road maintenance and improvements. A portion was also designated for community learning centers in conjunction with the Hudson City School District. Distribution of that 1% increase was designated as 15% for the Hudson Fire Department, 9% for EMS, 15% for Parks, 13.5% for Community Learning Centers (Hudson City Schools), and 47.5% for General City Operations/Capital Improvements, including storm water and road maintenance / improvements.

The Issue that will appear on the May 8, 2018 ballot proposes to combine the current tax allocations (15% for the Fire Department and 9% for EMS) into one fund for both Fire and EMS.

When Issue 3 passed in 2004, the funding percentages were appropriate to maintain operations of each service. Now, more than 13 years later, EMS is underfunded and is being subsidized from the City's General Fund. At the same time, the Hudson Fire Department has more funds than it needs for its operations. The purpose of this new ballot issue is to help sustain EMS in the short term without increasing taxes. If passed, the Issue will take effect July 1, 2018. 

The following chart compares the 2004 Issue 3 approved income tax fund percentages with the proposed allocations of the same taxes in the new ballot issue.
Fire-EMS Ballot Issue Infographic

Current Allocation                            (approved by voters in 2004)

Issue 3 in 2004 (1% increase) Percent
Park System
Community Learning Center (in conjunction with Hudson City Schools)
Hudson Fire Department
Hudson EMS
General Operations/Capital Improvements (Roads, Storm Water)

Proposed Ballot Issue Allocation (no additional taxes)

Proposed Allocation of that 1% Percent
Park System
Community Learning Center (in conjunction with Hudson City Schools)
Hudson Fire and EMS
General Operations/Capital Improvements (Roads, Storm Water)

Will My Income Taxes Increase if the Ballot Issue is Passed?

No. There will be no income tax increase as a result of passing this ballot issue.

Why is this Issue on the May 8 Ballot?

The Issue is being placed on the ballot as a way to maintain Hudson's volunteer EMS without raising taxes in the short term. When Issue 3 passed in 2004, the original 9% allocated for EMS was appropriate for the primarily volunteer EMS at that time. However, over the past five years, the annual EMS call volume has increased from 1,200 to more than 1,700. As Hudson's population ages, it is anticipated that the demand for EMS services will continue to increase. 

At the same time, volunteerism is at an all-time low, down from 60 volunteers in 2005 to 22 in 2016.  This mirrors a major drop in volunteerism nationwide. As an example, nationally the number of volunteers for the Red Cross is down 61%. The increased call volume and fewer volunteers has created a need to hire additional compensated paramedics/emergency medical technicians to fill the 24/7 EMS shifts. To maintain the City's current service levels in EMS, it has required dipping into the City's General Fund to help sustain the EMS operation.

The Hudson Fire Department has continued to have a strong volunteer base, and the 15% of the Issue 3 income tax money allocated to Hudson Fire is more than is needed to fund the operations of the Fire Department.

Reallocating the current taxes into one fund for both Fire and EMS, will help the underfunded EMS service while not negatively impacting the quality or services provided by the Fire Department.

Will Passage of this Issue Ballot Issue Hurt the Hudson Fire Department?

No. Currently the Fire Department has a strong volunteer base and has more funding than it currently needs.  It will not hurt current operations or the capital reserves for the Fire Department. The current Fire Department reserves will be restricted for future capital needs of the Fire Department.

Will Fire and EMS Operations be Combined as a Result of Passage of this Issue?

No. The Hudson Fire Department and Hudson EMS will remain separate entities.

How Was EMS' Sustainability Examined?

In March of 2017, the EMS Sustainability Committee was formed to review EMS and prepare a report for City Council on staffing, funding, and sustainability of Hudson EMS.

The committee, led by James Boex, PhD, MBA, included members of EMS, the Fire Department and City staff, examined changes in the demand for, supply of, and financing of EMS that have led to sustainability concerns. 

View the EMS Sustainability Report.

Use arrows to advance slideshow. Click on images to enlarge.

What Solutions to the Sustainability of EMS Were Considered?

The Sustainability Committee looked at several options for sustaining EMS, including combining Fire and EMS (currently separate services with separate funding sources), privatizing EMS, and reducing staffing.  It was determined none of these options were viable solutions to sustain Hudson EMS.

The Committee recommended that in 2018 the City combine the Fire and EMS funds into a single allocation of 24% of the 1% tax increase. The combined fund would allow the City to distribute funds between the two services as needed. Combining Fire and EMS funds into a single allocation would require a vote of the people. Combining the Fire and EMS funds would:

  • Help stabilize EMS in the short term with no new taxes.
  • Have no negative impact on current Fire Department operations.
  • Allow the Fire/EMS Chief and City Council to make decisions about expense allocations based on actual need to support both services.

What Has Been Done to Help Maintain the Financial Viability of EMS?

Over the years, the City has instituted a number of initiatives to help sustain Hudson EMS.

  • Improved ambulance billing collection.
  • Increased volunteer recruiting efforts.
  • Enhanced the Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) to encourage volunteer retention.
  • Restructured EMS Administration, combined the Fire/EMS Chief.

EMS BUDGET - Click on image to enlarge.

EMS Budget

What is the Ballot Issue Number that Will Appear on the May 8 Ballot?

The Ballot Issue number will be assigned by the Summit County Board of Elections at a later date.  Also, the recommended ballot language will forwarded to the County Board of Elections.  Once the Issue number and ballot language are finalized, the information will be posted on this webpage.