JEFFERSON SPECIAL ELECTION UPDATE: Voters approve Quilcene emergency medical services levy by wide margin

QUILCENE — The percentage of support for a Quilcene Fire Department levy, which has been overwhelmingly approved, dropped slightly in the second count of ballots.

The six-year emergency services levy was approved by 592 votes, or 74.56 percent, with 202 votes, or 25.44 percent, opposed after the second count.

As a first-time levy, it required 60 percent voter approval while a renewal will require only 50 percent.

The levy won by 559, or 75.03 percent, to 186, or 24.97 percent opposed in Tuesday night’s early returns.

Passage will allow the department to provide continuous fire protection, advocates have said.

Beginning in 2017, the tax will assess 50 cents for each $1,000 of property valuation, or $100 on a property valued at $200,000.

It will bring in about $165,000 annually — enough for the district to keep three paid firefighters who were hired with a two-year Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, Chief Larry Karp has said.

Tuesday night story

QUILCENE — An emergency medical services levy was approved Tuesday for the Quilcene Fire Department.

Passage will allow the department to provide continuous fire protection, advocates have said.

The six-year levy won by 559, or 75.03 percent, to 186, or 24.97 percent opposed.

The Jefferson County Auditor’s Office on Tuesday counted 745 ballots out of 1,431 mailed — the number that had come in the mail and were in drop boxes by Tuesday morning — for a voter turnout of 52.06 percent.

The next scheduled count is by noon Thursday, but if there is a close contest and drop boxes when emptied Wednesday morning contain many ballots, “we may do a count on Wednesday,” said Betty Johnson, elections supervisor.

Beginning in 2017, the tax will assess 50 cents for each $1,000 of property valuation, or $100 on a property valued at $200,000.

It will bring in about $165,000 annually — enough for the district to keep its career personnel, Chief Larry Karp has said.

He has said that the levy would help stabilize the force, which is moving from an all-volunteer service to one with some paid firefighters, as well as accommodate the increasing needs of an aging population.

A $396,000 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant last year allowed full funding of three full-time firefighter positions for two years.

After the two years, without additional funds, the department could have been forced to let the firefighters go, Karp has said.

Before passage of the levy, Quilcene was the only fire district in Jefferson County that did not have an emergency medical services levy.

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