A renewal of Clallam County Fire District 3’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) levy will continue for 10 more years starting Jan. 1, 2021.
Voters in Clallam and Jefferson counties approved the EMS levy of $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value with 10,459 yes votes (73.8 percent) to 3,716 (26.2 percent) after a Nov. 9 general election ballot tabulation.
“It confirms what we thought all along: people in Fire District 3 are happy with the services we provide and want to continue to fund it,” District 3 Fire Chief Ben Andrews said last week.
“It’s nice to have the support confirmed.”
The current levy, approved in 2009, will expire on Dec. 31, 2020 but carry into 2021 uninterrupted, Andrews said.
The levy funds are used exclusively for emergency medical services such as personnel costs and service contract costs, along with training for EMS personnel and emergency medical services-related equipment, supplies, vehicles and structures, fire district officials said.
In 2018, about 84 percent of Fire District 3 personnel’s call load — about 6,273 calls — went to emergency medical treatment services.
This year, Andrews said, fire district officials haven’t tabulated the calls, but he noted that total call volumes are up 5 percent from 2018.
“I would expect the percentages would stay about the same,” he said.
Along with EMS calls, Fire District 3 personnel respond to fire suppression, technical rescue, hazardous material spills and motor vehicle wrecks.
In July, Andrews said commissioners cannot legally raise the district’s annual levy amount by more than 1 percent per year up to the $0.50 amount.
Fire staff said if the EMS Levy rate increases from its current amount of $0.45 cents per thousand to a maximum of $0.50 per thousand in the coming years, a resident with a home assessed at $300,000 would see an increase of about $15 annually, or $1.25 per month.
“Our EMS need exceeds the EMS levy, so that’s why we need to have the general fire levy as well,” Andrews said.
Last year, voters approved increasing the fire district’s general levy rate from $1.26 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value.
To pass, the EMS levy extension needed 50 percent approval plus one vote but does not need a certain percentage of voter turnout.
Andrews said the EMS levy made up about $2.26 million, or about 25 percent, of the fire district’s $9 million approximate budget this year.
For the EMS levy, Andrews said, district officials outreached through news stories in print, online and on air while maintaining their presence at community events.
From last year’s election, he said the “feedback I got was the issue was pretty well understood and supported.”
“We know we appreciate (voters) continuing to support (the fire district),” Andrews said.
For more information about the EMS tax levy renewal, call 360-683-4242 or email Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.