Washougal EMS levy goes to voters

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An emergency medical services (EMS) levy will be included for Washougal voters on the November 7 General Election ballot.

It is a property tax levy specifically used to provide emergency medical services.

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.

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

Washougal property owners are experiencing temporary property tax relief this year, because there is no EMS levy included in the city’s 2017 budget. Mayor Sean Guard said in October of 2016 that, ultimately, it was his responsibility to submit the property tax levy for the Nov. 8, 2016 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.

Washougal Public Safety Committee members City Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay and City Councilman Dave Shoemaker, as well as Adam Brice, president of the East Clark Professional Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 2444, provided a statement in favor of the EMS levy for the voters’ pamphlet.

They said the proposition is to reinstate the EMS levy which has funded the paramedic ambulance response provided by the Camas-Washougal Fire Department to the citizens of Washougal.

Similar levies in the city of Camas and the district of East County Fire & Rescue also fund these services.

“Without this levy, there will be no guarantee that an ambulance will be readily available when you call 911,” they wrote. “Your ‘yes’ vote will simply maintain the established service within Washougal.”

The levy will provide paramedic responders and the money necessary to support replacement of ambulances and equipment, offset rising fuel costs, continue mandated training as well as community CPR and First Aid training and provide training and support for firefighters and first responders, the EMS levy supporters continued.

Clark County Elections Program Manager Cathie Garber said no one provided a statement against the EMS levy for the voters’ pamphlet.