Washougal EMS levy will be on Nov. 7 ballot

The Washougal City Council has approved a resolution to put an emergency medical services (EMS) levy on the November 7 General Election ballot.

The council’s 6-0 vote occurred July 24, without Councilman Dave Shoemaker, who had an excused absence.

If approved, the six-year replacement EMS levy would cost property owners 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value for six years. The levy, which requires 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, from 2018 through 2023.

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 there is not an EMS levy included in the city’s 2017 budget. Mayor Sean Guard said in October 2016 ultimately it was his responsibility to submit the property tax levy for the Nov. 8, 2016 general election ballot.

The 2017 City of Washougal budget includes the use of $646,900 in existing money in the EMS fund toward the payment to Camas for ongoing operations. Additionally, $134,453 in reserves were transferred to Camas to be held in the Fire and EMS reserve on Washougal’s behalf.

In June 2017, personnel from Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) 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 (CWFD) instead of contracting out to private providers or entering into an agreement with Vancouver to use that city’s emergency transport services.

The presentation, by John Stouffer, a project manager with ESCI, showed that 45 percent of the calls for CWFD medic service in 2016 were for Camas households and 48 percent were for patients in Washougal.

CWFD Station 43, in Washougal, was the busiest with more than 1,900 calls last year. The calls represent all incident types. Station 41, in Camas, was the second busiest, responding to in excess of 1,400 calls.

In 2016, the funding for CWFD was 49 percent Camas, 30 percent Washougal, 13 percent ambulance fees, five percent East County Fire and Rescue and three percent other.