Sweet 'n Sour: SJ schools M & O levy approved; EMS levy fails | Election 2014

In pursuit of a permanent property tax levy to fund emergency medical services, San Juan Island's public hospital district collected better than 50 percent of ballots cast in the first count of Tuesday's election.

But that 55.2 percent was not enough to put the proposition over the top.

The hospital district needed to hit the 60-percent mark, or better, to replace its 6-year EMS levy with one that does not require future voter approval. The EMS levy in effect today expires in 2016.

The hospital district garnered 1,320 "Yes" votes as of Tuesday, with voter-turnout at 41 percent—2,392 ballots—in the initial tally total; "No" votes numbered 1,072. Another 437 ballots will be processed Wednesday and there may be more to tally before results of the Feb. 11 election are certified, on Feb. 25, according to San Juan County Elections Supervisor Doris Schaller.

"It doesn't look good for the EMS levy," she said.

Meanwhile, voters renewed San Juan Island School District's 4-year maintenance and operations levy in a big way, approving the property tax levy by nearly 70 percent, with "Yes" votes outnumbering "No" votes by 943. A local levy that accounts for roughly 20 percent of the school district's annual funding, the M & O levy  will raise $2,150,000 in 2015.

Voters on Lopez approved a public school district levy by a decisive margin as well, 72 percent to 28 percent.

In addition to seeking a "permanent" levy, similar to those of the port, fire department and library, the hospital district also sought to raise the EMS levy from 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 50 cents per $1,000, a potential increase of 42 percent.

Because that 35 cents is a fixed amount, district officials, in support of raising levy's ceiling, noted that the amount of revenue generated by the levy had fallen by 22 percent over the last four years due to the overall decline in property value across the district.

Boundaries of the hospital district, which maintains a second levy exclusively earmarked for subsidizing emergency and under-funded primary medical care, include all of San Juan, and Brown, Pearl, Henry, Spieden, Stuart and Johns islands.

— Scott Rasmussen


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