Camano Island voters will decide on EMS levy renewal

CAMANO ISLAND — The fire department here is asking voters to approve an emergency medical services levy renewal on the primary ballot in August.

Camano Island Fire and Rescue’s current six-year EMS levy expires in December, Assistant Chief Levon Yengoyan said.

The department is asking voters to approve another six years at the same rate, 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The average homeowner’s bill would stay about $130 annually, Yengoyan said.

“It’s not a new tax. It’s not a higher tax,” he said. “It’s just renewing what we’re currently doing, what people are currently paying for the service.”

Camano Island is unique in that the average resident is at least 50 years old, and crews face longer transport times to get people to the mainland, Fire Chief Michael Schick said.

Most of their 911 calls involve a medical problem, and most often that’s a traumatic injury or someone with chest pains, data show.

“Medical calls are such an important part of what we do,” Schick said.

The fire department added around-the-clock paramedic staffing in 1995, Yengoyan said. Over the next few years, they’re hoping to get more firefighters also trained as paramedics.

The EMS levy generates about $1.5 million a year, nearly a third of the district’s annual budget. The money is used for paramedic staffing and vehicles, and medical supplies and equipment.

“It’s critical that we have that,” Schick said.

Ballots for the Island County primary election mail out in July.

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