I feel this levy banter has gotten too complicated. I want to bring it back to basics.
The fact is that due to assessed property values, the money that EMS receives from taxes has fallen every year since the beginning of the current levy, while call volume has increased overall.
Yes the budget has swelled. Three years ago the Washington State Department of Health mandated our local fixed wing air medical transport system become accredited. We felt this service was critical to our community so underwent the arduous process, ensuring transport options for our patients. We are dependent on air medical transport in spite of having a new hospital. This service has no out of pocket expenses for our district residents. It is in fact completely paid for by the insurance money received and is responsible for almost half of our budget. I want to stress that it is easy to look at a budget line item and make incorrect assumptions.
No one is denying the service quality, not even our critics. But, remember this doesn't happen in a vacuum. You have to have a good pit crew to win any car race. Believe me it is the same here. Your providers who answer your emergency calls 24/7/365 are racing to your every need, but there is a whole range of organization, maintenance and training that has to happen to make them instantly ready to win the race.
When EMS decided to purchase the new building the economy was in a far better state. Besides desperately needing more space, it made logistical sense to be close to the new hospital. To build the EMS building at the same time as the hospital cut costs. The plan at the time was that when the old EMS and medical center buildings sold we would combine the funds to pay off the new building. The residual funds currently in our reserve are being held to do just that.
Someone asked me what I thought of the "Yes, but not right now", idea. I have to say, why? To demoralize even more? Believe me cutting salaries and degrading benefits are demoralizing enough. Not feeling like you have the backing of your community is completely disheartening.
EMS takes your tax money seriously and would not come to you to ask if it were not needed to continue the excellent medical services provided by San Juan Island EMS.
Thank you for your time and consideration,