Clallam and Jefferson County voters approved Clallam County Fire District 3’s EMS levy of $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value 72.81 percent to 27.19 percent. Fire District staff said the funds make up about one-fourth of the district’s annual budget. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Clallam and Jefferson County voters approved Clallam County Fire District 3’s EMS levy of $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value 72.81 percent to 27.19 percent. Fire District staff said the funds make up about one-fourth of the district’s annual budget. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Clallam Fire District 3 EMS levy renewed for 2021

Continuing tax supports one-fourth of fire district’s budget

SEQUIM — Clallam County Fire District 3’s Emergency Medical Service levy will continue for 10 more years starting Jan. 1, 2021.

Voters in Clallam and Jefferson counties approved the EMS levy of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value with 5,684 yes votes, or 72.81 percent, to 2,122 no votes, or 27.19 percent, after initial general election counts were released Tuesday.

“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.

“It’s nice to have the support confirmed.”

The current levy, approved in 2009, will expire on Dec. 31, 2020. The renewal needed a 50 percent plus one majority for passage.

The vote breakdown after the initial count was 5,585 in favor in Clallam County and 99 in favor in Jefferson County, with 2,080 opposed in Clallam County and 42 opposed in Jefferson County.

The Clallam County Auditor’s Office planned another count of ballots in the all-mail election late Wednesday. Those totals are not reflected here because of press deadlines. Jefferson County’s next count will be on Friday.

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 50 cent amount.

Fire staff said if the EMS levy rate increases from its current amount of 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.

Andrews said the EMS levy made up about $2.26 million, or about 25 percent, of the fire district’s $9 million 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 [email protected].

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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