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EMS Levy Goes Before Clarkston (WA) Voters

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Kerri Sandaine

Lewiston Tribune, Idaho

(TNS)

Clarkston voters are once again being asked whether property owners should help fund the city’s ambulance service through an excess levy.

This year, the emergency medical services levy request is for $788,167, which would cost property owners within the city limits about $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2021.

Fire Chief Darren White said the EMS excess levy has been supported by residents since 2010, when the city of Clarkston opted to start its own ambulance service. Before that, it was called the Rescue One levy, and advanced life support services were provided through a contract with the city of Lewiston.

“The vote maintains the consistent high quality care the residents of the city have come to expect and enjoy,” White said. “If this levy were to go away, the ambulance service we know today would drastically change.”

According to information provided by the city, property owners have been helping pay for emergency medical services provided by the Clarkston Fire Department since 2002.

The first Rescue One levy was for $265,012 at a cost of about $1.12 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. When the ambulance service was established in 2010, the levy garnered $413,834, which amounted to about $1.23 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

“In 2010, the citizens of the city of Clarkston decided they wanted to have the ability to provide their own advanced life support services in the city,” White said. “Every year since then, Washington Administrative Code requires the citizens to vote to approve or deny this EMS levy.”

The levy has steadily increased over the years, but has always been supported by the majority of Clarkston voters who cast ballots in November.

Several years ago, the Clarkston City Council considered consolidating ambulance services in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley to save money. After numerous roundtable discussions with stakeholders and packed council meetings, city leaders opted to keep the current system in place.

If the excess levy didn’t pass, the city would probably consider running a special election or ending the ambulance service, which would require negotiations with the firefighters union, officials said. In past years, the levy typically covered the expense of about half of the workforce employed at the Clarkston Fire Department.

Residents who live in the city of Asotin and within the boundaries of the Asotin County Fire District pay about 48 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation for emergency medical services. Ambulance services in those areas are provided by the Lewiston Fire Department through a contract, and the ambulances are housed at the district’s station in the Clarkston Heights.

This year, Asotin County is running a ballot measure to establish a second fire district for rural areas, such as Anatone and Cloverland, which lie outside the county’s fire district boundaries. The estimated cost to property owners in those areas is about 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Ballots will be mailed to registered voters this week, and must be returned to the auditor’s office on or before Nov. 3. Additional information about the Clarkston EMS levy is available at the city’s fire station or by calling (509) 758-8681.

Sandaine may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.

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