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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County Fire District 4 asking voters for higher EMS levy

Voters in Spokane County Fire District 4 north of Spokane will see a renewal of the district’s emergency medical services levy on ballots arriving in the mail for the August election.

The levy has been in place since the 1990s and has been renewed by voters every six years, said Fire Chief Randy Johnson. The levy was reduced to 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2010 because of the recession, but now the district is asking voters to return the levy to the 50 cents per thousand it was before.

The rate of 50 cents per thousand will cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $8.33 per month, Johnson said. It will raise $1 million a year for the district, which accounts for 20 percent of its total budget.

The funds will be used for EMS training, staffing, supplies and equipment. The district offers advanced life support services with a combination of volunteers and paid part-time employees. It also has a medical response unit: a four-wheel drive pickup filled with equipment and staffed by one paramedic. The unit is based at Station 42 in Chattaroy.

The district responded to 3,100 calls in 2015, the highest number ever, Johnson said. The EMS calls accounted for 76.5 percent of the total.

“It’s been going up each year,” Johnson said. “The demand continues to increase.”

The levy requires a 60 percent supermajority approval to pass. If it does not pass, the district would have to cut staffing and possibly close stations, Johnson said.

“Everything would be on the table if we had to cut 20 percent of our budget,” he said.

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