Fire District 3 seeks input on EMS levy renewal

SEQUIM — Leaders with Clallam County Fire District 3 continue to weigh impacts to residents and the fire service as they consider asking voters to renew a 10-year Emergency Medical Services property tax levy this November.

The public will be able to comment on a potential EMS levy renewal at the fire commissioners’ next meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Station 34, 323 N. Fifth Ave.

Commissioners might take action then on whether or not to send the ordinance to county auditors for the Nov. 5 general election.

The district has until Aug. 6 to provide the resolution to the counties for the election.

The district covers the east side of Clallam County with a small portion in Jefferson County.

With the current EMS levy rate bringing in about 25 percent (or about $2.26 million in 2018) of the district’s total budget, District 3 Fire Chief Ben Andrews said if it was voted down, “we couldn’t maintain current staff levels beyond 2022.”

Andrews told fire commissioners on June 18, “We’d be deficit spending in two years [after the current levy expires in December 2020].”

Sequim-area voters approved a 10-year EMS levy in 2009 at $0.50-per-$1,000 of assessed valuation of a home. Collection began in 2011 and expires the end of 2020.

The district’s proposed ordinance would continue the tax and not to exceed the same rate through 2029.

Current valuation for the EMS levy is based on $0.45-per-$1,000 assessed valuation.

Emergency medical service calls make up about 87 percent of the district’s call load, Andrews said.

Last November, voters approved raising Clallam County Fire District 3’s levy lid lift from $1.26-per-$1,000 of assessed valuation to $1.50-per-$1,000 of assessed value.

Andrews said then that the lift’s purpose was to maintain current staffing/service levels while avoiding deficit spending too.

“This really restores us back to operating normal,” Andrews said in previous interviews, regarding cutting items such as training and equipment.

According to the new ordinance to renew the EMS levy, revenue from the proposed levy would be 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.

If approved, the EMS levy for a $300,000 assessed valuation home would not exceed $150 annually or about $12.50 per month for emergency medical services, the ordinance said.

Andrews said he and district staff don’t want to focus on the fluctuating rate of assessments but simply that it won’t exceed $0.50 per $1,000 assessed valuation for homeowners.

To pass, the EMS levy would need a simple majority vote of 50 percent plus one vote, rather than a permanent or first-time levy proposal that requires a supermajority of 60 percent plus one vote.

For more information about the meeting or proposed EMS tax levy renewal, call 360-683-4242.

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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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