Special election ballots heading to homes for Spokane Fire EMS levy

SPOKANE, Wash. — Ballots are heading to Spokane homes for a special election. Up for a vote is the renewal of Spokane Fire’s EMS levy.

The levy will expire this year unless it’s renewed by the voters. It’s worth $13 million over the next six years.

“Renewing this levy will allow the fire department to continue its tradition of providing those services throughout the City of Spokane and to its visitors every year and for the next six years,” said Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

He says the levy pays for about 80 full-time jobs that’s not in the regular budget. Paramedics cover a wide-range of calls in the City of Spokane.

“It may be a technical rescue, it may be a motor vehicle accident with injuries or it may be somebody experiencing a heart attack and everything in between,” Schaeffer said. “Over 85% of the incident volume that the Spokane Fire Department responds to involves emergency medical services.”

The rate from this levy is the same as the previous one six years ago — the last time voters renewed it.

It’s 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For example, if your home is worth $300,000 then you’ll pay about $150 to your property tax.

Opponents of the levy say the City has allowed the fire department to needlessly cost the citizens money.

Schaeffer says the levy has never failed.

“The consequences of that [not passing] would be the fire department paramedic program and the medical component of the fire department being removed and alternative model delivery service probably be explored by the community,” he explained.

Because it’s a levy, it needs a simple majority vote to pass, which is 50-percent plus one. If it passes, the levy will run from 2023-2028.

“I think the message for us is that EMS saves lives in the community,” Schaeffer said.

The final day to turn in your ballot is April 26.

RELATED: Spokane City Council votes to move forward with special election for EMS levy