Two of Kitsap County’s six public fire departments are asking voters to renew the long-standing property tax that provides funding for the area’s emergency medical services (EMS).
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department (PFD) have each placed a measure on the November general election ballot that will reauthorize their community’s EMS levy at $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value – the same rate that’s been regularly approved by voters for more than 30 years– and continue these services from 2019 through 2025.
About 60 percent of each agency’s total emergency responses are for medical incidents. All local firefighters are trained to be at the emergency medical technician level with many holding more advanced certifications as paramedics. The EMS levies provide dedicated funds for their initial and ongoing training as well as for medical equipment and supplies.
All of Kitsap County’s public fire agencies maintain an EMS levy.
South Kitsap Fire and Rescue successfully renewed it’s levy in 2014 while Central Kitsap passed theirs in 2015. Bainbridge Island Fire Department renewed its EMS levy earlier this year. Bremerton Fire Department’s measure is also on the November ballot.
NKF&R serves northeastern Kitsap County and the communities of Hansville, Kingston, Indianola, Miller Bay, and Suquamish while PFD serves northwestern Kitsap County and the communities of Port Gamble, Lofall, Vinland, Poulsbo, and Keyport.
An important thing to note, is that EMS levy rates for the two departments have fallen since the measures were last reauthorized.
Washington State law limits the increases allowed on each property tax to 101 percent of the previous highest levy. As property values increase, the levy rate must drop to keep that levy’s total tax revenue within the 101 percent cap.
Renewal of the EMS levies will reset the levy rate back to $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. In the areas served by Poulsbo Fire, the current EMS levy rate is about $0.40 per $1,000 while in NKF&R’s service area, the rate is currently about $0.39 per $1,000.
The measures, if approved by voters, will replace the current EMS levies and result in an increase of $10.00 – $11.00 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for property taxes payable in 2020.
For additional information about the upcoming ballot measures contact North Kitsap Fire & Rescue at 360-297-3619 or the Poulsbo Fire Department at 360-779-3997.
Exemptions from taxes may be available to homeowners who are 61 years or older, or disabled, and who meet certain income requirements.
Additional information about tax exemptions is available through the Kitsap County Assessor’s Office at 360-337-7160.