PORT ORCHARD — As expected on April 9, the Board of Fire Commissioners for South Kitsap Fire and Rescue unanimously approved a resolution asking voters to renew a levy for emergency medical service (EMS).
The proposal will be on the Aug. 3 primary election ballot for consideration by fire district voters.
Voters last approved a six-year, $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value EMS levy in 2015. If not renewed, the EMS levy will expire at the end of the year. The resolution asks South Kitsap voters to renew the EMS levy at the previously approved rate over the same period of time.
“Several residents took time to share with us how EMS has made a difference in their lives,” said Fire Chief Jeff Faucett. “These stories — just like lives — are precious to us. EMS is a program that makes a difference for people every day and we couldn’t do it without community support.”
SKFR, the largest emergency services provider in Kitsap County, responds to an average of 10,500 calls a year. In 2020, EMS accounted for more than 70% of all emergency calls for the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue community. Since 2015, the agency said, call volumes have increased a total of 21.7% for EMS-related incidents.
Funding from the EMS levy is used for emergency personnel, training and certifications, ambulances, medical equipment and supplies. SKFR said the annual cost for the owner of a $400,000 home is $200 per year, or $16.67 per month, for a 24-hour paramedic response. Paramedics are trained to provide advanced life support, which is the highest level of care available, officials said.
SKFR funds daily emergency operations with two voter-approved levies paid through property taxes. The fire levy is capped at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The six-year EMS levy is capped at $0.50 per $1,000.
SKFR provides fire and emergency medical services to 78,000 people over 117 square miles. The agency’s service area includes all of South Kitsap County, Burley-Olalla, Port Orchard, Glenwood, Gorst, McCormick Woods, Manchester, Sunnyslope, Navy Yard City and Rocky Point.