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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane’s emergency medical services levy passing

Spokane voters in Tuesday’s special election gave overwhelming support to maintain a property tax in support of the fire department.

In the first released ballot count Tuesday evening, the six-year emergency medical services levy was passing with 66 percent in favor among 22,500 votes counted. It only needs a majority to pass. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said another 11,000 ballots had been received but wouldn’t be counted until Wednesday.

Mayor David Condon said the voters’ support affirms the “quality of service that we provide.” Leading up to the special election he heard some concerns about taxes and questions about whether the levy was truly necessary, he said.

“I think overall people are very pleased,” he said.

Spokane Firefighters Union President John Goodman said he expected to see support for the levy, but didn’t anticipate the level of support. Goodman added that while the levy is a step in the right direction, the fire department needs more.

“It stops the bleeding essentially,” he said. “We’re still understaffed and undermanned.”

The levy has been in place since 1980 and generates about $8 million annually for the Spokane Fire Department, which has an annual budget of $50 million. The levy, which was set to expire at the end of the year, was last approved in 2010. The levy pays for advanced life support services performed by paramedics, operational costs, medical supplies, equipment and administrative oversight. The levy rate will remain at 50 cents per $1,000 of property value or roughly $75 a year for a $150,000 home.

According to the fire department, about 87 percent of incidents require emergency medical services. The department responded to 33,880 calls in 2015, about 90 a day.

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