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News / Clark County News

Camas to place EMS levy on April 23 special election ballot

Measure would renew property tax for six years

By Kelly Moyer, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: March 1, 2024, 6:07am

CAMAS — Camas residents will vote on the city’s emergency medical services property tax levy this spring.

The Camas City Council voted unanimously Feb. 20 to place the EMS levy renewal on the April 23 special election ballot.

If approved, the ballot measure would renew the EMS levy at a rate of 46 cents per $1,000 assessed property value for an additional six years beginning in 2025.

Camas voters overwhelmingly approved the current six-year EMS levy, 73 to 27 percent, in February 2018.

In November, Washougal voters approved their portion of the EMS levy renewal at a rate of 50 cents per $1,000.

Camas Finance Director Cathy Huber Nickerson said earlier this month that, in Washington, “property tax increases are not based on the increasing value of properties but rather on the amount of property taxes that are assessed from the prior year.”

“Each year’s levy may be increased by no more than 1 percent of the implicit price deflator,” Huber Nickerson said in her presentation to the Camas City Council. “As the city grows and/or property values increase, the levy rate will decrease. And, if the property values decrease, the levy rate could increase, but not more than 46 cents per $1,000.”

Huber Nickerson said the Camas-Washougal Fire Department “depends on funding from this levy to support an essential level of service for its EMS and transport program.”

Camas’ existing EMS levy will expire at the end of this year.

“It’s very important, as we know what’s happened with the fire department, that we get that 46 cents,” Huber Nickerson said.

Cities working together

Camas-Washougal Fire Department EMS Chief Shaun Ford told The Post-Record ahead of the Washougal levy vote that all firefighters are required to have either an emergency medical technician or paramedic certification.

The primary reason for the levy in Camas and Washougal, Ford said, is to provide EMS and ambulance services to the area.

A failure to renew the EMS levy in either Camas or Washougal, Ford said, “would greatly impact the ambulance service.”

CWFD leaders had an even more blunt take.

“Without this levy, there will be no guarantee that an ambulance will be readily available when you call 911,” according to a statement in the November voters’ guide written by a pro-levy committee chaired by CWFD Deputy Fire Marshal Kevin Bergstrom. “Rapid response of a local ambulance based within the community improves patient outcomes and keeps our community safe.”