Bellevue council plans to approve county EMS levy for the November ballot

Bellevue council will vote on bringing the King County EMS levy to voters’ ballots this November.

  • Monday, June 17, 2019 6:30am
  • News

A levy to fund the next six years of Medic One support across King County will likely come before voters in November. The Bellevue City Council has directed staff to craft a resolution to put the county levy on Bellevue’s November ballots.

King County is returning to voters to approve the six-year, $1.1 billion levy to support Medic One and emergency medical services (EMS). To go to the voters, one of the county requirements is having 75 percent of the King County cities with a population of more than 50,000 approve placing the levy on the ballot. Bellevue is one of 11 King County cities that must approve the levy’s ballot placement.

Councilmember Jennifer Robertson said the council uniformly supported Medic One and the services they provide, and directed staff to bring a resolution approving the levy for the ballot to the next city council meeting.

With a property tax levy rate of 26.5 cents per thousand of assessed value, the levy will raise $1.1 billion from 2020 to 2025. Bellevue would see an increase of $400,000 allocated for service in the city per year, Robertson said.

The levy will fully fund Medic One’s advanced life support service and will also provide funding for basic life support services, alongside other EMS programs as well as training opportunities. The county also plans to add an additional Medic One unit to their service area.

Robertson spoke highly of the level of service provided by the Medic One program, saying the county has one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the country because of the care they provide. Funding will also be used to support programs that Bellevue has piloted in the past such as mobile integrated health care allowing Medic One crews to better communicate with hospitals and follow up on patient outcomes.

Robertson also cited the Citizen Advocates for Referrals and Education Services (CARES) program as an example of a Bellevue program that will be expanded to other King County cities. This program allows the fire and police departments to refer 911 calls that are outside the scope of EMS to community resources, such as social workers, to better meet their needs. The levy will provide grant funding opportunities for other cities to implement the program.

The Bellevue City Council also discussed the possibility of officially taking a position on the levy vote. Robertson said that under state law the council can’t take an official position unless they go through a process involving public engagement to allow representatives of the “Yes” and “No” agendas to make an argument for their respective points.

Bellevue rarely takes an official stance on these types of ballot measures, Robertson said, but because of the importance of Medic One’s high level of service, she felt it would be a benefit for the council to officially support the levy. Seeing support for the levy from her colleges, Robertson asked the council to take a position on the levy and estimated that process would begin in September pending further discussion.

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