Chamber Endorses Kanawha County Safety Levy

The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce supports the passage of the Kanawha County Safety Levy, which is on Kanawha County’s May 8 ballot.

The safety levy raises $17.8 million yearly for ambulance services, local police and fire departments and the Kanawha Valley Regional Transit Authority. The safety levy is not a new tax, but a renewal of the levy supporting local ambulance, bus and emergency services that was first passed in 1973. Failure of the levy would result in loss of automatic response for vehicle accidents, reduced service in rural areas, a decrease in bus service and transportation for the disabled and a longer response time for 911 calls.

“Our transit system and emergency response systems are critical to our quality of life and economic vitality,” said Kanawha County Commission President W. Kent Carper. “The Safety Levy invests in the maintenance of the KRT, which transports people to work, school, local attractions and health care facilities and reaches into every area of life – from public health to economic development. The levy also gives us an important opportunity to maintain the level of service provided by our law enforcement and emergency responders, even as the number of incidents increase.”

The average Kanawha County household pays only 21 cents per day to support fire departments that respond first to emergencies, ambulances that respond to 90 percent of calls within eight minutes and transport more than 200 patients every day, and buses that transport 1.7 million passengers each year.

The safety levy serves the whole community, including individuals facing medical emergencies, families battling fires, folks traveling to and from work and providing all of us a safe place to call home. The following are service highlights of some of the levy-funded agencies:

Kanawha Co. Sheriff’s Department (2014-2017)

  • 3,697 felony arrests and 20,147 misdemeanor arrests
  • $1,190,577 in cash seized and $2,296,806 in seized drugs

Kanawha Co. Emergency Ambulance Authority (2017)

  • 50,044 calls for service
  • 50 licensed ambulances out of 14 locations
  • 27 ambulances on the road during peak times
  • 1 call about every 10 minutes, all day and all year
  • Charleston Fire Department Ambulance Unit (2017)
  • 14,806 calls for service
  • 9,108 patients transported
  • Four full-time Advanced Life Support ambulances

Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority (KRT)

  • 7 million passengers each year
  • 20 routes throughout Kanawha County
  • Manages a countywide fuel management program providing low fuel prices as a result of bulk purchasing to more than 50 local nonprofit groups, county agencies, Kanawha County municipalities and Yeager Airport
  • Manages the KRT Evacuation Team, a group of volunteers trained to evacuate citizens to a safe location in the event of an emergency
  • Without the Safety Levy, KRT will not be eligible to receive federal or state grants

The levy aims to take care of the basics while also investing in the future with funding for equipment and training for emergency services organizations. The levy has provided funding for drug enforcement prevention efforts, bulletproof vests, emergency radios, digital fingerprinting imaging, swift water rescue equipment, fire hydrants, GPS monitoring systems, self-contained breathing apparatuses, traffic safety vests and emergency alert systems.

The ambulance, police, fire and public transportation forces are filled with individuals who make it their duty to protect our friends, families and businesses. They are there for Kanawha County residents around the clock, 365 days a year. Consider May 8 an opportunity to make your statement of support for Kanawha County’s safety levy.