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EMS levy renewal set for November ballot

YAKIMA - The stage is set for Yakima County residents to vote on the proposed renewal of an EMS levy.

In action yesterday, Tuesday, county commissioners approved placing the levy on the November general election ballot.

Candace Hamilton manages the county's Emergency Medical Services Department, which was created by the EMS levy. She says the levy has been in place for more than 20 years.

"This supports fire districts all across the county, 21 in all, in order for them to provide EMS, pre-hospital care," says Hamilton.

She notes the EMS fund also provides money to fire departments in incorporated areas like Sunnyside, Mabton and Grandview.

Proceeds from the long-standing levy also support the county's EMS department, which provides the ongoing training emergency medical technicians need to maintain their certification.

The agency also provides the initial training needed to become an EMT.

"The concept is that with a single training office, no matter where you live in the county the man or woman taking care of you is providing the same level of service," Hamilton said.

The current levy in place expires 2013. The renewal on this November's ballot calls to extend the EMS levy from 2014 through 2024.

Hamilton said the levy amount is still the same as it was two decades ago when it was first approved: 25 cents per thousand dollars of property valuation.

She said the reason for putting the renewal to voters now, two years before the current levy expires, is to allow time to adjust in case voters turn it down.

"It's a public safety issue," Hamilton says of the need for the levy. "It's a basic fundamental part of our emergency medical health care in Yakima County."

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