When San Miguel County voters go to the polls to vote on a tax increase in November, as reported in the Optic on Aug. 22, they may want to give serious thought about subsidizing private, for-profit businesses. Taxpayer subsidies to private businesses simply send the wrong message.
In 2010 Superior Ambulance, a private, for-profit entity, began providing ambulance service to the Pecos Valley area. And their performance has been just fine. But now the San Miguel County Commission, supported by City of Las Vegas officials, has apparently decided to subsidize Superior Ambulance by proposing a gross receipts tax increase that will give them a portion of the tax proceeds. In fact, some of the funds raised would be used to support emergency dispatch within the county, which is an important service also. But, who’ll be the next business in line for a government handout?
It’s no secret that providing ambulance services to rural areas like Pecos are expensive and don’t reap a great deal of profit. Indeed, in 2010 the Pecos Valley Medical Center, a nonprofit rural health care provider, was forced to give up its ambulance service because of increased costs, client inability to pay and reduced county funding. At that time several proposals had been offered to state representatives and the county commission to finance ambulance services for rural areas. However, there was little support, and to date no action has been taken.
Voters know that wise taxing policies have a favorable impact on local economies. While there may not be an immediate answer to sustaining ambulance services for rural areas, taxpayer subsidies to a statewide for-profit business is not a sensible solution to this problem.