Emergency Medical Services

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Emergency Medical Services

Director: Josh Pelonio

EMS Levy Renewal Information

Who is Skagit County EMS and what do we do?

Skagit County funds a coordinated countywide emergency medical service (EMS) system that consists of Basic and Advanced Life Support first-response and ambulance transport for residents and visitors. We contract with cities, towns, fire districts, and other agency providers covering 1,731 miles and 132,000 people across the county. EMS call volumes in Skagit County have increased by 17 percent in just three years.

How do we fund emergency services?

Services are funded through a voter-approved EMS levy limited to $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The EMS levy must be renewed by voters every six years to continue service. Voters last renewed the EMS levy at $0.44 in 2018 and it’s set to expire at the end of 2024.

Why does the EMS levy rate decrease?

Since 2018, the levy rate has dropped from $0.44 per $1,000 to $0.32 per $1,000. Over time, levy rates drop as property values rise to limit a taxing district to the same amount of revenue per year plus a one percent increase allowed by state law. Even if property values double, we can only collect one percent more in revenue. This is called “levy compression” and impacts our ability to provide emergency services.

Voters must renew the EMS levy to continue service

The EMS levy will expire at the end of 2024. The Board of County Commissioners is likely to put a renewal on the ballot before it expires.  The County is currently preparing a preliminary budget to help inform the Board of County Commissioners in determining a renewal rate. There will be opportunities for public discussion before a final decision is made.

What will the EMS renewal fund?

The EMS renewal will continue funding for paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), continuing medical education and training, fuel, equipment, ambulance maintenance and replacement, and medical supplies.

What will this cost?

The renewal rate has yet to be determined. Voters approved a levy rate of $0.44 in 2018, and since then, the rate has dropped to $0.32. The current rate of $0.32 costs the owner of a $555,000 home (median assessed value) $177.60 per year or $14.80 per month for a 24-hour EMS response. 
Please check back here for more information as it becomes available.

Skagit County EMS Director Josh Pelonio welcomes your questions at joshp@co.skagit.wa.us or 360-416-1830.