About 30 people turned out at the Goldendale Grange Thursday night to get first-hand information about a proposed new Emergency Medical Services (EMS) District that would cover all of Klickitat County except the Alderdale and Bickleton fire districts, which receive their ambulance services elsewhere. Currently, the ambulance services provided through Klickitat Valley Health in Goldendale and Skylinie Hospital in White Salmon don’t earn enough to cover the expenses of their operation, and the hospitals have to subsidize the services.
Klickitat County Commissioners formed the district with a unanimous vote earlier this year, but in order to fund the service, voters need to approve a maintenance and operations levy. That vote is scheduled for the August 6 primary election.
Residents will be asked to approve a levy of 30¢ per $1,000 of assessed valuation on their property. According to Washington State law, voters must approve the new levy by a supermajority, defined as 60 percent approval plus one vote. The 60 percent plus one approval must come from all the voters living inside the area, which will receive services from the new EMS district. This means Bickleton and Alderdale residents who opted out of district, will continue to receive their services, as before, and will not be subject to the new levy on property taxes, nor will they vote in the upcoming levy election.
Klickitat Valley Health CEO John White, spoke to the group, though he noted that under state law, he cannot advocate either for or against the formation of such a district; his role is limited to providing information,
Ray Lafond, representing the “Yes on Emergency Medical Services” group. labors under no such restrictions. He is a strong supported of the new district, and is not bashful about saying so.
You can listen to the meeting below, in a recording made by Haystack Broadcasting’s Kevin Malcom. They are in three parts because the meeting lasted an hour and a half.
Photo above is by Jeanne Malcolm