Approve Camas EMS levy request

It’s safe to say that at first glance nobody is ever happy to hear about a proposal to raise property taxes, no matter what the purpose. But sometimes, when those proposing the increase have done their homework and it becomes clear based on the facts that it is justified, it just makes sense.

This is the case with the Camas emergency medical services levy, which proposes an 11-cent increase to boost the current 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value rate to 46 cents. If approved on Aug. 7, under the new rate the owner of a $300,000 home would pay an additional $33 per year.

EMS levy funding is used to support ambulance services, purchase and maintenance of ambulances, equipment and supplies, hiring and training of firefighter/paramedics and IV technicians and administrative support personnel and training programs. It also supports the EMT training and recertification of the volunteer programs in Washougal and East County Fire and Rescue and four advanced life support ambulances staffed 24 hours a day at three different stations in Camas and Washougal.

The increase, Camas Fire Department officials say, is needed to provide stability to an EMS fund that in the wake of decreases in assessed property values has struggled to meet the financial needs of a department that has had to manage increases in call volume and escalating costs.

Originally established in 1979, the last and only increase was approved by voters in 2006. And this time around officials have promised that projections indicate that it will sustain the city’s EMS fund for “years to come.”

An 11 cent rate increase is no small matter. But given the fact that the department has made noteworthy efforts to trim some of its costs in recent years, and the thorough process that determined a rate that would produce the amount of money needed to create a stable, well-functioning EMS fund, it is justified.

Vote ‘yes’ on the Camas EMS levy increase.