Camas Fire Chief Nick Swinhart may be facing his biggest challenge to date, in selling Camas voters on a proposal to increase the current emergency services levy.
As reported in the April 3 Post-Record, the Camas City Council voted unanimously to send the EMS levy rate increase to the Aug. 7 ballot. If approved, the six-year levy would raise the current rate from 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 46 cents. That means starting in 2013 the owner of a $300,000 home would pay $138 a year toward the Camas EMS fund — a $33 increase.
As big of a challenge as selling a tax increase during a recession might seem, Swinhart has a couple of things working in his favor. One, most citizens in cities like Camas want top quality EMS services. And two, Swinhart has quickly become a highly regarded chief in his short time in Camas. His skills in bringing people together for the common good have already become apparent.
But for Swinhart and others making the pitch to Camas voters for the levy, there is something else they’ll need to give high priority to. And that’s information. Data, numbers, details, call it what you will. Camas voters are going to want to know what all the numbers mean and why a levy rate increase is “unavoidable,” according to Swinhart.
So far we’ve heard partial explanations about why the EMS fund has struggled and why keeping it at the current level would put the fund in the red by $2.9 million by 2018.