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Permanent EMS levy fails to pass

In a stunning upset, the permanent Emergency Medical Service levies for North Kitsap Fire & Rescue and Poulsbo Fire Department did not pass in Tuesday’s primary election.

The board of commissioners for both districts held special meetings on Thursday to discuss what possible factors contributed to the failure and what steps they would be taking next.

Commissioners for PFD have decided to put the EMS levy on the November ballot and will ask voters to continue the levy for another six years. The group also talked about what they thought caused the “no” vote.

Both levies required a super majority of 60 percent or higher but fell short of the mark after tallying about 57 percent each.

“The ballot title itself was not true to what it really meant,” said David Ellingson, Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners for PFD, noting the wording sounded negative and possibly raised confusion among voters.

“We’re convinced the citizens aren’t interested in decreasing in services like the EMS program,” said PFD Fire Chief Jim Shields.

The Board of Commissioners for NKF&R’s district decided to take the same action and will also put their levy on the November ballot for a six-year renewal.

“Folks I’ve talked to seemed to be more comfortable with the six-year,” said Commissioner Red Denson.

The board, along with NKF&R Fire Chief Paul Nichol and NKF&R spokeswoman Michele Laboda discussed the reasons for the no-vote and the low-voter turnout. Nichol said he heard that other than the EMS issue, there really weren’t enough issues on the ballot to motivate people to get in the poll boxes. He also remarked that the word “permanent” had caused confusion with the voters he had talked with.

Officials from both departments want to hear any questions and concerns from the public that may have motivated them to vote against the levies, or not vote at all. They are also willing to answer any questions about the Emergency Medical Services provided in North Kitsap.

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