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Voters say ‘yes’ to EMS

At 8:01 p.m. Tuesday, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue Chief Ken Burdette pulled out a piece of paper, a pen and his cell phone, looked at the first phone number he had written down and dialed up the county elections office.

Shortly afterwards he stood up, walked across the room at Silver City Restaurant and told a small group of assembled off-duty firefighters and paramedics the news — voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition No. 1, also known as the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Property Levy.

After Tuesday’s first count, there were 14,654 of the mail-only ballots returned with 12,186, or 83.16 percent, voting “yes” to a mere 2,468, or 16.84 percent, voting “no.” A second count was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

“Anything over 60 percent we’re happy with,” Burdette said. “I’m very pleased with the 83 percent we got.”

The voters didn’t have a problem keeping with the six-year levy rate of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value (or $92.50 for a $185,000 home) which they also approved by a wide margin in 1998.

“We’re really happy that the people realized it’s not a new tax and it’s an outstanding program,” said Bob Muhleman, who led a citizen’s campaign for the levy. “We’re excited. It’s nice when you put a big effort in and win the election.”

Outside of the citizen’s committee, the IAFF Local 2819 spent hundreds of man-hours making phone calls, putting up signs and campaigning on street corners.

The EMS levy comprises 21 per cent, or $1.98 million, of CKFR’s $9.5 million annual budget. Those funds are used to bolster staffing, provide annual medical training, maintain and operate ambulances 24-hours-a-day at four stations, purchase medical supplies and equipment such as automated external defibrillators on every ambulance, and public CPR classes.

“It’s a good feeling. We work hard all the time for this,” said CKFR board chairman John Wilkins Sr. on Tuesday. “We start tomorrow for the next six years.”

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