Washougal leaders may place EMS levy on November ballot

City used reserves to pay for EMS in 2017, after failing to go to voters for levy in 2016

The Washougal City Council is expected to vote during its 7 p.m. meeting on Monday, July 24, on whether the city will go out for an emergency medical services (EMS) levy in the November 7 General Election.

If the six-year replacement EMS levy is approved, it would cost property owners 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. The levy, which will require a 60 percent “yes” vote to pass, would cost the owner of a home assessed at $350,000, $14.60 per month or $175 annually.

The most recent six-year levy, at 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, was approved in 2010.

Washougal property owners are experiencing temporary property tax relief this year, because city leaders failed to put an EMS levy extension on the ballot in November of 2016. Mayor Sean Guard took responsbility for the city’s failure to pass a levy extension during an October of 2016 meeting, saying: “Unfortunately, we believed the levy renewed in 2017, not this year.”

Washougal’s 2017 budget included the use of $646,900 in the EMS fund to pay Camas for ongoing EMS operations. Washougal City Administrator David Scott had said the funds were not originally earmarked for a specific project or expense.

“They are generally held for EMS,” he said last October. “The funds can only be used for EMS-related expenses.”

Additionally, the city transferred $134,453 from reserves to Camas, to be held in the Fire and EMS reserve on Washougal’s behalf.

In June, personnel from Emergency Services Consulting International met with Camas and Washougal leaders and urged them to keep the area’s medics and medical transport services in-house with the Camas-Washougal Fire Department instead of contracting out to private providers or entering into an agreement with Vancouver to use that city’s emergency transport services.