Camas to place 6-year EMS levy renewal on ballot

City seeks committee members to draft statements for, against proposition

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Camas-Washougal Fire Department provides emergency medical services to the communities of Camas and Washougal. The city of Camas will ask voters to renew a 6-year EMS levy in 2024. (Contributed photo courtesy of the city of Camas)

Camas voters will have a chance to weigh in on the City’s emergency medical services (EMS) property tax levy this spring.

The Camas City Council voted unanimously Feb. 20, to place the EMS levy renewal on the April 23 special election ballot.

If approved, the ballot measure would renew the EMS levy at a rate of 46 cents per $1,000 assessed property value (APV) for an additional six years beginning in 2025.

Voters renewed the EMS levy at 46 cents per $1,000 APV in February 2018.

Camas Finance Director Cathy Huber Nickerson explained to Council members earlier this month that, in Washington state, “property tax increases are not based on the increasing value of properties but rather on the amount of property taxes that are assessed from the prior year.”

“Each year’s levy may be increased by no more than one percent of the implicit price deflator (IPD),” Huber Nickerson stated in her presentation to the Council. “The IPD for the 2023 property tax levy is 6.457%. Therefore, the lawful highest levy would be a 1% increase. The levy will increase or decrease each year with assessed valuation changes and will fluctuate. As the City grows and/or property values increase, the levy rate will decrease. And, if the property values decrease, the levy rate could increase, but not more than 46 cents per $1,000 (APV).”

Huber Nickerson said the Camas-Washougal Fire Department (CWFD) “depends on funding from this levy to support an essential level of service for its EMS and transport program.”

Camas’ existing EMS levy, which also is set at 46 cents per $1,000 APV, will expire at the end of this year.

“It’s very important, as we know what’s happened with the fire department, that we get that 46 cents,” Huber Nickerson told Camas City Council members during their Feb. 5 workshop.

The City is currently seeking people interested in serving on committees for and against the EMS renewal levy. Committee members will draft statements in favor of and against the levy renewal for publication in the online April 23, 2024 Special Election Voters Pamphlet. Those interested in serving on either committee should call Huber Nickerson at 360-834-2462, or email her at

In November 2023, Washougal voters approved that City’s EMS levy renewal at a rate of no more than 50 cents per $1,000 APV. Camas-Washougal Fire Department EMS Chief Shaun Ford told The Post-Record ahead of the Washougal EMS levy renewal vote that all CWFD firefighters are required to have either an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic certification.

“The primary reason for the EMS levy” in Camas and Washougal, Ford said, is to provide EMS and ambulance services to the area.

A failure to renew the EMS levy in either Camas or Washougal, Ford said, “would greatly impact the ambulance service.”

CWFD leaders had an even more blunt take on what it would mean if voters decide to not renew the EMS levy.

“Without this levy, there will be no guarantee that an ambulance will be readily available when you call 911,” a pro-levy committee chaired by CWFD Deputy Fire Marshal Kevin Bergstrom stated in the Nov. 7, 2023, voters guide, regarding Washougal’s EMS levy renewal. “The levy provides funding for dual-function paramedic/firefighters and local low-cost ambulance transport service as compared to private companies. … Rapid response of a local ambulance based within the community improves patient outcomes and keeps our community safe.”

Camas’ EMS levy rate has increased just two times since 1978, rising from 25 to 35 cents per $1,000 APV in 2007, and from 35 to 46 cents per $1,000 APV in 2013. The April ballot proposition will ask voters to sustain Camas’ 46 cents per $1,000 APV EMS levy rate for an additional six years. For the owner of a property with an assessed value of $500,000, the EMS levy renewal would continue to cost around $19 a month.

Camas voters overwhelmingly approved the current 6-year EMS levy renewal, 73-27 percent, in February 2018.