Sales tax loss during pandemic impacts Taney County Ambulance District

TANEY COUNTY, MO. -- Paramedics don't look at their budget before responding to a call. When the alarm sounds, they answer.

However, the chief of the Taney County Ambulance District knows the coronavirus outbreak is hitting their bottom line hard.

"TCAD Paramedics respond to about 13,000 calls a year," Paramedic Lt. Johnathan Tudor said.

TCAD provides a vital service any year for Taney County communities. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ambulance district is still answering calls, despite a big impact on their budget.

"The budget that I've projected in the next three months is about a $600,000 loss of revenue," Chief Darryl Coontz said.

Chief Coontz says there are fewer calls coming in during the stay-at-home order. While that is good news, financially, it means a loss.

"When we transport somebody, we are able to bill medicare, medicaid, private insurance," Chief Coontz said.

He says sales tax adds another $4 million per year to the budget, but with many businesses shut-down, people aren't paying up.

"We're not gaining the quarter of a cent sales tax anymore," Chief Coontz said.

Chief Coontz says it's hard to know exactly how much the pandemic will impact the district in the longer-term, but they're preparing for the worst.

"Anywhere we can cut, we're doing it," Chief Coontz said.

They've stopped all the extras, like education programs and community outreach, making operational changes, too.

​"If a crew member calls in sick, we might not necessarily fill that truck that day. So far, it's worked out. But we'd rather have full staffing," Chief Coontz said.

The chief says the district had planned for emergencies like this.

"We assume that the office gets blown down by a tornado, so people work remotely. We've had that in the plans for years. We are actually executing it now," Chief Coontz said.

Now, regardless of the uncertainty about when normalcy will return, they continue to serve.

"You call, we'll show up," Chief Coontz said.

The chief says paramedics and EMTs at TCAD have plenty of masks and gloves to protect themselves and their patients.

Crews will be in full protective gear when they show up on calls.

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