EMS levy passes

Approval margin is much smaller for library levy increase

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The Washougal emergency medical services levy has been approved by 74 percent of the participating voters – above and beyond the 60 percent super majority needed in order for it to be passed, while the approval is much more narrow for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District levy.

As of press deadlines, the six-year replacement EMS levy has received 1,951 “yes” votes and 687 “no” votes.

“That’s the highest percentage of support we’ve had for this levy in recent history,” Camas Fire Capt. Kevin Bergstrom said yesterday. “It’s nice to see folks are prioritizing public safety. It’s an essential service.

“It’s very reassuring,” he added. “With the support of this levy in Washougal, I think you’ll see a resurgence in the fire authority discussion for a single entity fire service.”

The Camas and Washougal City Councils could soon decide whether to hire a consultant to assist in a consolidation process involving fire departments from both cities.

Washougal Fire Chief Ron Schumacher has said if the Camas council decides to proceed forward and approves the cost of a consultant, the cities will seek requests for proposals.

A committee that includes the Camas and Washougal mayors, city administrators, fire chiefs and human resources directors has met regarding the possible consolidation of the departments. The committee also includes Washougal council members Rod Morris and Dave Shoemaker and Camas council members Greg Anderson and Don Chaney, as well as representatives from the firefighters union, members of both fire departments and Washougal’s volunteer firefighters.

As president of the Camas/Washougal Professional Firefighters Local 2444, Bergstrom represents firefighters in Camas and Washougal. Last year, the C-W Professional Firefighters consolidated into Local 2444, as members of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

In December, the CFD plans to vacate the East County Fire & Rescue station on 39th Street. That includes two firefighters for each of the three shifts. Those six firefighters will then be housed in and respond to calls from the WFD building at 1400 “A” St. The current minimum staffing of two firefighters at the WFD will increase to four.

With the EMS levy’s passage, the current tax rate of 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value will not increase. It will cost the owner of a home assessed at $150,000, $6.25 per month. The owner of a home assessed at $250,000 would pay $10.41.

Library levy vote is close

Meanwhile, voters in the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District will most likely face a 12 cent increase in their library levy rate next year. The current rate is 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

FVRL Communications Director Sue Vanlaanen said library officials are optimistic about the final outcome but not ready to declare victory until all votes are in.

“We called it ‘cautiously ecstatic’ Thursday,” she said. “It went from 49.8 percent approval Wednesday to 50.26 Thursday. More votes came in Friday, but they did not change the overall average.”

The FVRL district includes all of Skamania, Klickitat and Clark counties, except for the city of Camas. The district also includes the city of Woodland in Cowlitz County.

Funds generated by the levy increase would restore library hours that were cut last year and purchase books and other materials. No hours have been cut from the Washougal Community Library, which is supported with funds from the levy.

“Books will be bought for libraries across the district,” Vanlaanen said. “There will be more books on the shelves and more books into circulation. That benefits all locations.

“It’s just wonderful for our patrons who need the library,” she added. “It will provide more access and more of the books they need.”