Fire officials seek permanent levy

The crews from the Poulsbo Fire Department and North Kitsap Fire & Rescue want to continue help saving lives and making sure everyone is safe.

Next month, both departments will ask voters to renew the Emergency Medical Services Levy, which will continue the funds to support the services provided by paramedics and emergency medical technicians when emergency situations arises.

While the PFD and NKF&R are two separate jurisdictions, the levy will apply to both agencies. The two have a mutual aid agreement to respond to calls in each other’s district, meaning if the closest unit to the situation is on another call, then the next closest available unit will respond.

Leaders from both departments want the voters to know that by passing this levy, the residents of North Kitsap will continue to have emergency medical support — permanently.

Previously, voters renewed the levy every six years. This time, if passed, the departments will not have to ask tax voters to renew the levy again.

“What we’re proposing is to go ahead and (have the voters) authorize the funding,” said Red Denson, a member on the Board of Fire Commissioners for NKF&R’s district. “We’re recommending the permanent adoption of a permanent levy.”

The levy funds will continue to pay for the costs of the medical services provided by the EMTs and paramedics, including maintenance and operation of the ambulances, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, medical supplies, up-to-date replacement equipment and medical training for the crews.

By passing the levy, voters will agree to pay a maximum of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuations. But that’s the most the voter will pay.

According to Poulsbo Fire Chief Jim Shields, the owner of a $150,000 home will only pay $75 a year for the levy.

That’s the most the tax voters would pay.?? ($75)

If the assessments of the property values rise, then the rate per $1,000 drops, said David Ellingson, Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners for PFD’s district, noting the 50 cents per $1,000 would also drop.

“(The rate of 50 cents) can not be raised without voter approval,” Ellingson said. “And this is under the permanent levy.”

The money from this levy goes toward emergency medical services only. Passing the levy will make it permanent, like the fire tax, to continue provide funding for the services provided for emergency medical situations.

“This levy assures that they will do this for the foreseeable future,” Ellingson said.

Right now, officials from both agencies are concerned about voter education.

“My biggest fear is the lack of knowledge,” said NKF&R Fire Chief Paul Nichol.

Chief Shields agreed.

“To not know, then vote no, which is what most people do,” said Shields, adding that the main problem the departments are trying to solve is how best get the information to the taxpayers while keeping the material simple.

In order to help educate the voters, both agencies will be sending out informational mailers over the next two weeks, explaining the levy details and benefits for the Sept. 17 election.

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