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$5 license fee for emergency services on ballot

The referendum faces a big hurdle because many voters won’t understand what they are voting for—or against.
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 9:07 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -A coalition of city and county leaders is endorsing a ballot proposal that would create a five-dollar automobile license plate fee in Houston County.

“Go to the last thing on the ballot (next week) and mark yes and you’ve done your duty,” said County Chairman Mark Culver during a meeting with journalists on Wednesday.

The referendum faces a big hurdle because many voters won’t understand what they are voting for—or against.

“Do you favor the adoption of Act 2020-191 of the 2020 session of the Alabama legislature?” is how the ballot initiative is worded.

“It is confusing,” admits Houston County Commissioner Doug Sinquefield, though he is optimistic it will pass.

There is hope his prediction will be correct. Voters in Dale County approved a five-dollar EMS tag fee that used the same wording.

Revenue from the Houston County measure, expected to generate over a half million dollars annually, would be shared by five rescue units and used exclusively for equipment and salaries.

Those units operate mostly in rural areas, sometimes a half hour from the nearest hospital.

State Representative Paul Lee (R-Dothan) said he contacted state officials after learning that descriptive ballot wording had fallen through the cracks but, by then, ballots had been printed.

The Dothan Fire Department and Pilcher’s Ambulance Service don’t plan to accept funding, though the bill entitles them to a split of that money.

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