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January 30, 2024

Skagit Board of County Commissioners Passes Resolution to Place EMS Levy Renewal on April Ballot

Yesterday the Skagit Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to place an emergency medical services (EMS) levy renewal on the April 23, 2024, special election ballot. The purpose of the ballot measure is to renew the levy at a sufficient rate to continue funding 24-hour EMS response.

The EMS levy must be renewed by voters every six years, and the current levy is set to expire at the end of 2024.

Skagit County EMS is a countywide EMS system providing 24/7 life-saving medical response and ambulance transport to area hospitals. Skagit County EMS is currently funded by a voter-approved EMS levy limited to $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The EMS levy was last renewed by voters in 2018 at $0.44 per $1,000. Since then, the rate has dropped to $0.32. The county is asking voters to renew the levy at a rate of $0.47 to manage higher call volumes and costs to provide EMS services.

In the last four years, call volumes have increased by 25 percent, which is primarily due to the area’s growth and aging population. In 2023 Skagit County provider agencies responded to over 18,000 calls and provided more than 9,200 ambulance transports to area hospitals. As a result, costs for medical supplies, fuel, equipment, personnel, and ambulance replacements have increased.

If approved by voters, the EMS levy renewal will fund:

  • Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
  • Medical education and training
  • Fuel
  • Equipment
  • Ambulance maintenance and replacement
  • Medical supplies

The cost to replace aging ambulances, for example, average $400,000 each, while cardiac monitors and defibrillators need to be replaced at a cost of $50,000 each. If the EMS levy is not renewed by voters, the lack of funding will significantly impact the ability of Skagit County EMS agencies to provide life-saving response and ambulance transport for residents and visitors.

The proposed $0.15 levy rate increase would cost the owner of a $555,000 home (median assessed value) an additional $83.25 per year or $6.94 per month for 24-hour EMS response.

Learn more about the EMS levy at www.skagitcounty.net/EMSlevy or by contacting Skagit County EMS at 360-416-1830 or joshp@co.skagit.wa.us.