Emergency services levies passing

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



Votes for a levy in the northern part of the county and around Yacolt for ambulance services and another levy for additional staffing and other needs at Clark County Fire & Rescue were handily passing according to preliminary results from Tuesday’s primary.

An excess levy 1.40 per $1,000 of assessed property value for North Country EMS’ ambulance services was passing with about 91 percent voting yes (165 to 17) in Yacolt, and about 80 percent voting yes (1,892 to 459) in the rest of the district.

The levy helps fund ambulance services in the area, and for someone in a $300,000 home, it’ll cost about $420 per year in property taxes.

The money from Yacolt and unincorporated district residents pay for about a third of the district’s operations. The district’s regular levy, at about 40 cents per $1,000, pays for another third, and the rest comes from use fees.

The passing levies were projected to raise more than $2.2 million total to pay for district maintenance, operation and staff salaries for three years, and the tax will be collected in 2018.

North Country EMS’ service area covers about 1,000 square miles in north and northeast Clark, southeast Cowlitz, and west-central Skamania counties.

The levies attained the 60 percent supermajority needed to pass. The vote saw 23 percent turnout in Yacolt and 28 percent in the rest of the district.

Clark County Fire & Rescue district voters approved a 9-cent property tax levy increase with 66 percent voting yes, or 3,395 to 1,775.

The district said the money will go to replacing aging vehicles and hiring seven to nine firefighters, which would help cut response times in the 153-square mile district by staffing unoccupied stations.

The current property tax levy rate for district residents is $1.41 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The 9-cent increase would cost the owner of a $300,000 home an additional $27 per year, or $450 total.

The district serves about 40,0000 people in Clark County and Ridgefield, La Center and Woodland.

The levy needed a simple majority to pass, and saw 24 percent turnout.