Voters are being asked if they want to renew the property-tax levy that pays for emergency medical services on Whidbey Island.
If the measure on the Aug. 7 primary ballot passes, the levy would last for another six years and renew the current property tax of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. An owner with a property with an assessed value of $250,000 would continue to pay approximately $125 each year.
The money from the levy supports Whidbey General Hospital’s Emergency Medical Services, paying for ambulances, staff, overnight quarters, equipment and supplies. It also helps pay for 911 dispatch services through Island County. In 2011, emergency medical services responded to almost 7,000 calls for help.
In addition, the money supports the state-mandated continuing education for the paramedics and emergency medical technicians, plus training within the island’s fire departments. The hospital’s EMS staff also offer classes in CPR, injury prevention, child-seat safety training and fall prevention for senior citizens.
The budget for emergency medical services is about $7.1 million, and provides the only state-licensed ambulance system on Whidbey. Revenue from the levy provides 65 percent of the funding; the remainder comes from user fees.