Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Sept. 21, 2021

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Yacolt-area levy would fund paramedic services

Measure believed to be popular but hinges on turnout

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

Voters in Yacolt and the surrounding unincorporated areas will once again be asked to approve an excess levy to fund ambulance and paramedic services.

If approved, the ballot measure would tax residents $1.10 for every $1,000 in assessed property value in 2022. More than $2 million would be collected, enough to fund North Country EMS services for three years.

Chief Shaun Ford said these excess levies ensure North Country can continue to provide the same level of service to the community. If it fails, he said, the agency would have to cut services by half.

North Country EMS employs seven paramedics, three EMTs, nine part-time EMTs and other employees shared between the emergency medical services agency and Clark County Fire District 13. They staff two ambulances constantly and a third when needed, Ford said.

The levy will account for 25 percent of the department’s operating budget, according to Ford.

Although similar levies have passed easily, Ford said this year’s challenge will be voter turnout.

The measure needs 40 percent of those who voted in the 2020 general election to vote in this election, which Ford acknowledged is a tough ask. According to Clark County Elections, it needs a minimum 2,085 yes votes in the unincorporated area and 187 in Yacolt. Should it reach the needed turnout, Ford is confident it will pass. It needs a 60 percent supermajority.

“I know that the public supports the service, and they want it there,” he said. “It’s just convincing enough people to come out and vote is always concerning.”

The tax rate of this levy is lower than the one passed in 2017, which was for $1.40 per $1,000 in property value. Ford said this year’s tax is lower because home values have risen in the area at a faster pace than the cost to run North Country.

If the measure fails or the turnout is too low, Ford said, the levy is already approved to run again in November.

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