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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Washougal voters face ‘instrumental’ EMS levy decision

If proposition fails, city will have to shift funds from services

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: October 21, 2023, 6:10am

Voters will soon determine the future of Washougal’s emergency medical services.

The city of Washougal has placed Proposition 11, a replacement emergency medical services levy, on the Nov. 7 ballot.

“If you want ambulance service, all we’re saying is that it’s not going to cost you more (money),” Washougal Mayor David Stuebe told The Post-Record. “If you call 911 and need an ambulance to come to your house, you need this (levy to be passed). It’s not like we’re going out for a bond or asking for more money. This is just a renewal of our contract, at least as far as I understand it. This is a no-brainer.”

If voters approve, Washougal property owners would pay an EMS levy rate of no more than 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value next year. For 2025 to 2029, the EMS levy could increase by a maximum of 1 percent per year but is projected to decrease slightly due to increases in assessed value, according to the city’s data.

If the levy fails, Washougal would have to shift funds from other services, including police, parks, streets and other public services, to maintain current EMS service levels.

Ambulance service would most likely be affected by a levy failure. Unlike most of Clark County, Camas and Washougal receive ambulance service from the fire department, not a private company.

All Camas-Washougal Fire Department firefighters are required to have an EMS certification at either the emergency medical technician or paramedic levels, because fire engines respond to EMS calls along with an ambulance, according to EMS Chief Shaun Ford.

If the levy fails, “That part of the EMS system would be unaffected,” Ford told The Post-Record earlier this year. “The primary reason for the EMS levy in each city and for East County Fire and Rescue is for the provision of the ambulance service. If the Washougal levy were to fail and the city could not find another source of similar funds, (the failure) would greatly impact the ambulance service.”

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