January 19, 1998
Fire Board supports EMS levy
by Al Hooper
On Jan. 6, the Board of Commissioners for the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District passed a motion to support the EMS levy that will be presented to voters Feb. 3. Commissioner Dave Callon dissented, along with Commissioner Ed Anderson, saying that he felt that EMS services should be funded as an integral part of basic taxes. Callon went on to say "I support preserving the current level of EMS services, but as we just saw in the last election, the whole program is at the whim of the voters, and that strikes me as ridiculous." He finished by stating "If our national defense were funded by levy, why that just scares the hell out of me." Overheard in the audience was the reply "Maybe then we wouldn't have $400 toilet seats."
Prior to voting in favor of the support, Commissioner Ben May asked Chief Steve Smith what would happen if the levy were to fail again. Smith replied that "more than just the EMS program would be in danger of being cut back. Paramedics, dispatchers, an entire range of direct and indirect services are all in jeopardy of being curtailed," Smith said.
Smith observed that the other fire chiefs of King County are all in favor of the levy process because it removes the funding source of the EMS program from the control of the County Council. He said "The chiefs know that basic taxes are at the mercy of the council, and we don't feel that we'll be able to provide the current level of EMS services if we are lumped in with the rest of what the county has to spend money on. The King County Fire Chiefs Association is overwhelmingly in favor of the levy."
Speaking as a member of the public, Dolly Kosters said that the taxpayers have spoken, and that the word is "No." Dan Quiggle then spoke saying his remarks were being addressed to all those who wanted to vote against the EMS levy. He said "I would like to see the nay-sayers stop shouting about how they don't want to spend any money and tell us all how to save lives and property without any money for equipment, supplies, etc. I want to see solutions to the problems, not just hear someone crying that lowering their taxes is more important than saving someone's life."
In a later interview with Quiggle, he summed up his previous statements by saying "If the taxpayers don't want to give the fire fighters enough money to keep on saving lives, so be it. But it seems to me that the next life to be lost because the necessary equipment wasn't available, or for whatever reason, well, that lost life will very likely be one of our district's citizens, who are also taxpayers."
Commissioner Tim Osgood said that he is "also a taxpayer in this district, but for the life of me, I don't see how I could possibly spend any amount of my personal money in such a way as to help save a life, whether it be mine, my child's, or any life. That takes equipment, training, supplies, time and most of all, dedicated people. I can't do it by myself, so I've got to depend on the professionals we have here at the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District. I feel sorry for anybody who feels that they can do the job of spending life-saving money better than these professionals, because I don't think they can do it."
In finishing the debate over whether or not to support the levy, Callon said "We should take no position at all." May said "We need to take a stand." Osgood had the final voice in the matter, stating "If only one life is lost because the levy failed, then shame on us for not having voiced our support."
The final vote showed May, Osgood and Chairman Frank Peep in favor of the motion, with Callon and Anderson voting against the motion to support the levy. The Commissioners normally meet at 6:00 pm on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the District Headquarters, located at 19900 144th Ave NE. They can be reached at 425-483-2131.