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Voters extend EMS levies for six years | Election
POULSBO — Voters overwhelmingly extended property tax levies supporting emergency medical services in Poulsbo and North Kitsap for six more years.
As of 8:15 p.m. Nov. 5, the vote on Poulsbo Fire Department's Proposition 1 was 3,441 yes, 804 no. The vote on North Kitsap Fire & Rescue's Proposition 1 was 2,896 yes, 613 no.
The measures continue the property tax levies at their current rate, 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That equals $8.33 per month for the owner of a home assessed at $200,000. Jacque Thornton of Kingston said that’s a small investment.
During medical emergencies involving Thornton's husband, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue EMTs not only helped him but also made sure she was taken care of.
"The day they came to take him to the hospital for the last time, they couldn't have been more caring," she said. "They were right on the ball."
After her husband died, Thornton fell at home and "ripped my arm open." The same EMTs and paramedics arrived at her home.
"If people don’t vote for [the levy], they’re being foolish," she said. "In Hansville and Eglon, we have an awful lot of elderly people. What would we do about [EMS]?"
She added, "If I'm going to pay for something, I want to pay for something that's going to help me. I don’t know when I'm going to need it."
The levy will generate $1.5 million for Poulsbo Fire Department, a chunk of its overall $7 million budget. (Poulsbo Fire's official name is Kitsap County Fire Protection District No. 18; that's how you saw it on the ballot).
The biggest demand on both departments is for emergency medical services, and the levy doesn't cover the cost of EMS service; it's supplemented by other revenue the districts receive. If the EMS levy was not continued, "We'd have no way to provide the same level of [EMS] service," North Kitsap Fire & Rescue Chief Dan Smith said in an earlier interview.
In both departments, firefighters are also trained in EMS. In addition, Poulsbo Fire has two full-time paramedics on duty at all times; North Kitsap Fire has one full-time paramedic on duty at all times.
Of a combined 5,937 calls the departments responded to in 2012, 69 percent were medical. In 2013, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue estimates it will respond to 1,644 calls for EMS service, 78 fires, and 726 miscellaneous.
The departments combine efforts where they can to save money and avoid duplication. They train together and share equipment and facilities maintenance. To save on election costs, Poulsbo Fire asked for its levy continuation a year early — the current levy expires in 2015 — so it could share the ballot with North Kitsap Fire & Rescue.
The last time these measures were on the ballot, they passed with more than 70 percent voter approval — one received 82 percent approval in 2000.