The Whatcom County Council approved a resolution to place a regular property tax levy request on the ballot in November 2022 to support Whatcom County EMS.
The ballot measure asks voters to reauthorize a levy rate of $0.29 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Voters previously authorized this levy rate in 2016 for a period of six years, 2017-2022. Renewal of this levy rate would cost the owner of a $500,000 home approximately $145 in 2023.
What is Whatcom County EMS?
The Whatcom County EMS System provides emergency patient care throughout the County.
What is an EMS Levy?
In 2016 Whatcom County voters approved a 29.5 cent county-wide levy based on a property tax that provided sustained funding for a regionalized EMS system in Whatcom County (2017 to 2022).
The proposed 2023-2028 EMS levy will provide similar services and will include additional funding for Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) services. This levy renewal will be on the ballot in the November 8th general election (2022).
What does the EMS Levy pay for?
Five Paramedic Units (Advanced Life Support), operation costs, training (including paramedic school), equipment, technology, vehicles, and the community paramedic program.
How often does the EMS Levy happen?
Every six years. The current EMS Levy expires at the end of 2022. The new levy will be for six years of EMS funding, 2023-2028.
How is the EMS system funded?
Whatcom County EMS is financed through a combination of user fees, sales tax revenues and the county-wide levy. User fees bring in an average of $2M per year based on the approved rate schedule. Sales Tax revenue provides about $3.6M to the total fund each year. Property tax revenues provide about $14M for all EMS services.
Additionally, the EMS system receives approximately $2.3 mil per year from Ground Emergency Medical Transport (GEMT) payment from Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS). The remaining monies come from the EMS levy, which is calculated at 29.5-cent per $1000 assessed value of the home
By law, 100% of the EMS levy funding goes to EMS services and bridges gaps in funding necessary to provide paramedic staffing, training, medical supplies, and replacement ambulances. EMS levy funding cannot be spent on fire protection or other non-medical services.
Is there a senior citizen exemption?
Senior citizens, age 61 and older by December 31, 2022, as well as disabled persons, with a combined income of less than $40,000 a year may be exempt from all or part of special levy taxes. Call the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office at 360-778-5100 for more information.