“Transparency” in the EMS levy-letters

“Transparency” in the EMS levy

In a letter called “Frequently Asked Questions” put out by the EMS 2016 Campaign Committee, there seems to be a few half truths, a play on public fear and last but not least lies. I probably wouldn’t have written this letter but then I saw it…that twelve letter word “TRANSPARENCY” Lets take a look at how transparent they are.

When calculating the 43% increase they are asking for, they used a model based on property valued at $200,000.00 never mind that the average property in San Juan County is $431,000.00. OK you’re right, that is a bit less than half the truth. You can more than double the estimation of tax increase on the average house hold. They say they need this rather extreme increase because, and I quote {recession has depressed property values and thus tax revenue} However, since 2010, the median price of a house in Washington State has actually increased from $246,300 to $298,700 in 2016! I wasn’t able to find assessed median home values (not listed for sale median) for San Juan County in 2010, but I expect that they follow or exceed the State average.

Maybe people can pay this 43% increase out of the inflation adjustments to their social security payment…0%! What’s that you say, you’ve received no such raise. Despite the attempt of the Committee to present this “Save the EMS” as an all or nothing proposition, the real question here is an appropriate funding level. If this levy doesn’t pass it’s not the end of EMS on San Juan Island. It simply means they will be required to come up with a more realistic levy.

Speaking of transparency lets take look at another one of their claims, and I quote “Personnel, salaries and benefits have been reduced”. There is no “transparency” here. What were the prior salaries? and by how much were they reduced? Their statement could refer to 30% or 1%. I suspect they saw the success of the Island Rec levy and its associated “transparency” and have latched on to that as the key to getting a no-questions-asked levy passed. Keep in mind this requested revenue does not cover Peace Island Medical Center. That is an additional tax levy. Nor does this levy take into account the gained revenue of a ride in an ambulance on San Juan Island. From Roche Harbor to the Medical Center $17,000.00. Yep no type-O- folks that is seventeen thousand dollars. That does not include the $800.00 billing to ride 600 yards to the airport should you need to be flown off

Last but not least I find it deceitfully irresponsible that they came up with a 43% increase but can not come up with a projected budget for 2017

Cal Bucholz

San Juan Island