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Medic One Levy Comes up on November Ballot

Sam Eaton
10/26/2001

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t value Medic One’s life saving service in King County. But as funding for the county’s emergency medical services system comes up for voter renewal, county leaders are hoping people will support it with their ballots. KUOW’s Sam Eaton files this report on Proposition One, otherwise known as the EMS levy.

BACKERS OF THE “YES ON MEDIC ONE” CAMPAIGN LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT 9% OF THE FAMILIES IN KING COUNTY WILL NEED EMERGENCY SERVICES AT SOME POINT. KING COUNTY EXECUTIVE RON SIMS SAYS THESE HIGHLY TRAINED FIREFIGHTERS AND PARAMEDICS SHOWED UP WITHIN MINUTES WHEN HIS SON WAS HURT IN A FOOTBALL GAME. Accidents are accidents, they just show up in one’s life, and that’s why Medic One’s so important, because the prospect of you being able to survive because of that response are higher here than any other place in the world, and that’s why it’s so important to support this. BUT THAT SUPPORT COMES AT A PRICE. RENEWAL OF THE SIX YEAR PROPERTY TAX LEVY WILL COST HOMEOWNERS 50-DOLLARS A YEAR FOR A 200-THOUSAND DOLLAR HOME. THAT’S SLIGHTLY LESS THAN WHAT PEOPLE ARE PAYING NOW. IN ITS FIRST YEAR, THE LEVY WOULD RAISE 49-MILLION DOLLARS TO CONTINUE FUNDING MEDIC ONE’S 22 PARAMEDIC UNITS AND 35 LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS. OPPONENTS OF THE LEVY WANT THE SERVICE PAID FOR OUT OF THE COUNTY’S GENERAL BUDGET, NOT THROUGH ADDITIONAL PROPERTY TAXES. KIRKLAND CITY COUNCILMEMBER SANTOS CONTRERAS, WHO’S RUNNING AGAINST SIMS IN THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE RACE, HAS MADE THIS A KEY ISSUE IN HIS CAMPAIGN. ON KUOW’S WEEKDAY HE CLAIMED THE ONLY REASON MEDIC ONE IS STILL BEING PAID FOR OUTSIDE OF THE GENERAL BUDGET IS BECAUSE OF A LACK OF LEADERSHIP. Medic One is a vital fundamental service that governments should be providing and it should be part of the basic budget and it would be my goal to over time do away with the levy, which was supposed to have happened and hasn’t happened and funding for EMS would become part of the basic budget over time. It’s too basic a function of government to bring this life preservation, life saving mechanism to our people. BUT FUNDING MEDIC ONE THROUGH THE BUDGET HAS ALREADY BEEN TRIED, ACCORDING TO LEVY SUPPORTERS. AFTER THE 1997 LEVY FAILED, TWO TASK FORCES LOOKED INTO ALTERNATIVE FINANCING METHODS. AND WHAT THEY FOUND SAYS EXECTUTIVE SIMS, IS THAT THE COUNTY’S HANDS ARE TIED, ESPECIALLY IN THESE TIGHT BUDGET YEARS. The proponents of putting it in the existing budgets concluded twice now that it’s simply not probable. If anybody says that they are not being honest with the public, they’re not telling the truth. We simply cannot absorb this, there’s no way. IF VOTERS APPROVE THE LEVY ABOUT 60-PERCENT OF THE MONEY WILL GO TOWARD PARAMEDIC SERVICES, INCLUDING ADDING NEW ONES IN BOTHELL, SEATTLE, SHORELINE, ISSQUAH AND SOUTH KING COUNTY. THE REST OF THE MONEY WOULD GO TOWARD LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS FOR TRAINING AND SUPPLIES. SAM EATON, KUOW, 94.9, PUBLIC RADIO.

04.23.18

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