EMS – will it survive even with a levy increase?-letters

EMS – will it survive even with a levy increase?-letters

Having worked through the last 9 years of EMS budgets and knowing the ins and outs of SJI EMS, I seriously doubt EMS will financially survive given their present 2017 budget even if the 50 cent levy is passed.

Voters requested serious fiscal changes within EMS – instead, after the separation from Island Air, only 0.8 positions were eliminated; consultants were added to the staff, which resulted in even higher administrative expenses.

While call volume has been projected to increase 3% annually over the next 3 years in the budget, it actually has already decreased by an average of 17% and I predict it will decrease by another 10% within the year.

It is deplorable that our Sheriff, responsible for all of San Juan County, is paid less than a medic who, in a 24 hour shift, has less than 2 calls to attend to; a medic who collects a bigger benefit package than our top law enforcement officer and Life Insurance better than our deputies who truly put their lives on the line every day.

It is hard to believe that only $15,000.00 out of a $2.1 million budget will be put aside for a capital reserve, and only $112,000.00 will be left over at the end of 2017, insufficient to cover even 1 month of expenses. All this after receiving more than $400,000.00 additionally in tax monies.

50 cents is it – the top level of funding available to SJI EMS. EMS will not survive on this given their present 2017 budget. Major changes need to be made, and it can only be achieved by changing the number of employees, their salaries and benefits. More than 79% of $1.48 million tax dollars are spent on salaries, more than the entire current tax levy EMS receives.

Regardless of what has been cut in the past, is it enough? If they don’t get their financial priorities straightened out, it doesn’t matter if $.50 is approved or not.

Birgit Kriete

San Juan Island