South Tuolumne County voters in Tuesday’s election were leaning toward approval of a five-year tax that helps fund a 24-hour ambulance in Groveland.
Measure G, which extends a $70 annual property tax in the Groveland Ambulance zone, had gathered 1,054 in favor to 464 opposed when ballot counting ended late Tuesday.
Passage requires a two-thirds majority. While G appeared to receive 69.4 percent support, some 6,800 absentee and provisional ballots remained unverified and uncounted countywide Tuesday. Those will be tallied in coming days.
The Groveland and Big Oak Flat communities have been served by the ambulance station since the late 1980s, when voters first approved a special tax for the service. The vote extends that same rate on unimproved properties for another five years beginning June 30, 2013.
The Groveland ambulance has received between 410 and 425 calls for service annually for the past several years, according to the county Human Services Agency. The cost in 2010-11 for the service was $651,594, and billed calls generated in revenue $347,246. The tax generated $256,967 in revenue, leaving the county ambulance fund to cover the remaining $47,381.
According to the Human Services Agency, about $91,517 was needed for the 2011-12 fiscal year, and between $31,106 and $72,795 will be needed each year for the duration of the tax. Officials in the agency had said that if the tax was not approved, the south county ambulance service would have to be reduced to 12 to 14 hours a day to cover peak demand hours.
This was the second public safety tax initiative to appear on Groveland area ballots this year. The Groveland Community Services District in June asked voters to approve a special parcel tax to raise revenue for the district fire department.
The proposal, which would have replaced a similar special assessment, failed to even receive a majority of votes resulting in reduced funds for the department. That measure saw organized opposition in the community, something that did not emerge in the Groveland area in relation to the ambulance tax.