WhidbeyHealth EMS seeks levy extension

Tax supports 60 percent of operating budget

Island County voters will be asked in August to continue paying a tax vital to maintaining the life support of WhidbeyHealth Emergency Medical Services.

Monday, EMS manager Roger Meyers explained at a WhidbeyHealth Board of Commissioners meeting that the current six-year levy ends on Dec. 31.

“Since 1978, a levy has provided 60 percent of our operating budget,” he said. “The EMS levy will remain at the same rate, which is 50 cents per $1,000 (on property taxes) for the next six years.”

Meyers said he intends to seek to put the levy on the August primary ballot.

“This is vital to our system,” he said, “and it’s a continuation of the same levy.”

The annual operating budget for WhidbeyHealth EMS is $8 million; it completes about 7,500 runs up and down Whidbey and to surrounding medical centers every year. Ambulances, paramedics and emergency medical technicians are based at three stations in Coupeville, Oak Harbor and Bayview.

During life-threatening emergencies involving burns or major trauma, or for patients requiring surgical care unavailable locally, EMS responds and communicates from the field with WhidbeyHealth staff.

Six full-time ambulances are normally in rotation but as many as one dozen could respond during disasters or times of high-call volume, according to the WhidbeyHealth website.

With a unanimous vote, the Whidbey Island Public Hospital District Board of Commissioners that oversees the public hospital and health system, approved the resolution seeking a levy extension vote in August.

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