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CK voters say yes to EMS

Despite tough economic times, Central Kitsap voters are willing to pay a little extra for Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

As of Wednesday morning, the Kitsap County Auditor's Office shows the Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue (CKFR) EMS levy is passing by nearly 75 percent. 10,939 people voted yes, while 3,766, or roughly 25 percent, voted no.

"We're just very pleased and thrilled that the citizens support it," CKFR Chief Ken Burdette said.

The levy's passage reauthorizes the collection of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. CKFR officials predicted the 2010 levy rate would have been at about 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

With the passage of this levy, the cost to a homeowner with a home assessed at $232,000 will be an additional $25.52 per year in property tax.

Burdette said about 75 percent of CKFR's calls are EMS-related and money collected through the levy will fund various aspects of the service.

"It's a significant portion of what we do," he said. "I think people recognize the value of it."

Burdette said the EMS levy accounts for about 17 percent of CKFR's budget. If the levy did not pass, he said the agency may have had to dip into its reserve funding, so he is grateful the CK voters turned out to show their support.

"People really do support us," Burdette said.

He said money collected through the EMS levy will help fund staffing of paramedics and emergency medical technicians and maintaining ambulances, medical supplies and equipment.

"It will continue to help us to provide the level of service we've been providing," he said. "This is not buying anything extra."

CKFR has a long history of passing EMS levies. The last CKFR EMS levy lift was approved by nearly 83 percent of voters in 2004.

"The citizens have always been very supportive of what we do," Burdette said. "Historically, we've had very good support from the public and we'd like to continue that."

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