Painful realities make supporting the EMS levy necessary
April 9, 2009 · 8:41 AM
In a perfect world, people would always take responsibility for the choices they make in life.
From an emergency services standpoint, that means people who choose to live in the outlying regions of the county and knew where the fire stations were situated when they moved there wouldn’t expect an ambulance to arrive at their door within three minutes of calling 911.
And more importantly, they wouldn’t expect people who do choose to live closer to town — where the fire stations tend to be clustered to serve the population centers — to subsidize that rural lifestyle by raising their own property taxes.
But we don’t live in a perfect world, and ambulance drivers can’t pick and choose which emergency calls they respond to.
Consequently, the only way to ensure you and your loved ones are adequately protected — wherever you live — is by supporting the upcoming South Kitsap emergency medical services (EMS) levy, which would raise roughly $1 million by increasing that portion of your property tax bill from 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to 50 cents.
South Kitsap Fire & Rescue has documented that its average response times are getting longer despite the fact that the community’s total population has grown only marginally in recent years, and the logical explanation is that more people are migrating away from the downtown core to currently unincorporated areas like McCormick Woods, Manchester and Olalla, which don’t have fire stations of their own.
These communities are still served by SKF&R, however, and their residents expect a reasonable level of service.
So even if you live in the heart of Port Orchard in the shadow of a fire station, you could still be in for an uncomfortable wait if the EMS crew is off answering a call down near Belfair or over by the Pierce County line when you need them.
Again, it would be better if the service and the burden of paying for it were apportioned more equitably. But it is what it is.
Which means the choice on the ballot isn’t between fair and unfair. It’s potentially a choice between life or death for you or a loved one.
And that’s an easy choice to make.