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Special election Tuesday for EMS, M&O levies; measures pay for emergency medical services, education

The 2009 special election to decide whether to extend tax levies for education and emergency medical services is Tuesday. Ballots can be mailed or deposited into an elections dropbox in front of the county courthouse in Friday Harbor, the Senior Center on Orcas Island and the fire station on Lopez Island. Ballots must be deposited into an elections drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday. If you mail your ballot, make sure it is postmarked by Tuesday.  - Jane K. Fox
The 2009 special election to decide whether to extend tax levies for education and emergency medical services is Tuesday. Ballots can be mailed or deposited into an elections dropbox in front of the county courthouse in Friday Harbor, the Senior Center on Orcas Island and the fire station on Lopez Island. Ballots must be deposited into an elections drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday. If you mail your ballot, make sure it is postmarked by Tuesday.
— image credit: Jane K. Fox

The 2009 special election to decide whether to extend tax levies for education and emergency medical services is Tuesday.

Similar measures are on ballots on Lopez and Orcas islands. A total of 11,154 ballots have been mailed to voters countywide; on San Juan Island, 5,520 ballots were mailed out, Elections Supervisor Doris Schaller said. Some 2,312 ballots had been returned by Monday at 3 p.m., she said.

Ballots can be mailed or deposited into an elections dropbox in front of the county courthouse in Friday Harbor, the Senior Center on Orcas Island and the fire station on Lopez Island.

Ballots must be deposited into an elections drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday. If you mail your ballot, make sure it is postmarked by Tuesday.

Two levies are on the ballot on San Juan Island.

— San Juan County Hospital District No. 1: Proposition No. 1, Emergency Medical Services Levy.

The measure asks voters to extend the EMS levy for six years. The levy is 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, or $105 a year for a home worth $300,000.

— San Juan Island School District No. 149: Proposition No. 1, School Support Replacement Levy.

The measure asks voters to extend the school district’s maintenance and operations levy for four years. The levy is 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, or $174 a year for a home worth $300,000.

The maintenance and operations, or M&O, levy supplies almost 20 percent of the school district budget. The state provides each school district with money for basic education, but those funds are not enough to fully fund all district programs.

Without this funding, the school district would have to make almost $2 million in cuts.

Superintendent Walt Wegener said that to lose that amount of funding from the budget would be “too devastating to get a good grip on.”

The EMS levy requires 60 percent approval; the school district M&O levy requires simple majority.

Supporters of each levy aren’t taking chances.

EMS levy supporters have been spreading the word that the levy only funds emergency medical services on the island — and that it has nothing to do with the proposed Peace Island Medical Center.

“San Juan Island EMS is under the San Juan County Hospital District No. 1, which is the junior taxing district that operates both San Juan Island EMS and the Inter Island Medical Center under two separate levies,” supporters wrote in a letter. “Both agencies report to the hospital district board but are operationally and fiscally separate.

“This ballot initiative is only for the operation of San Juan Island EMS and none of the levy is for the operation of the medical center nor for the proposed hospital project.”

And school district M&O levy supporters have been spreading the word that the levy is an existing levy. A bond levy approved in 1997 expired in December, lowering property tax bills 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That bond levy, which paid for remodeling of Friday Harbor Middle and High schools, is not being renewed.

Visit SanJuanJournal.com Tuesday for complete election coverage and results.

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