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Island Guardian


And I Watched Our Republic Survive


Thus far in my lifetime I have watched, literally, the assassination of a president and the assassination of his assassin. And I watched our Republic survive.

I have watched a president send more than a half a million young men and women to an unwinnable war half a world away, and from which more than 58,000 did not return alive, some of them my own classmates. And I watched our Republic survive.

have watched a president resign from office in disgrace in the midst of a scandal of own criminal conduct. And I watched our Republic survive. I have watched a president through his naïveté and abject incompetence standby when the prime interest rate soared to 21 1/2% and more than four dozen American hostages were taken from our own embassy in Iran and held for 444 days. And I watched our Republic survive.

I have watched a president be impeached in the midst a scandal of his own sexual misconduct. And I watched our Republic survive.

Today I watched yet another president inaugurated and I watched tens of thousands of people in the streets, those who describe themselves as espousing tolerance and diversity and denouncing others as haters, all the while making their point by smashing the windows and destroying businesses and property of their fellow citizens.

Through all of this I must take heart in what I have watched thus far in my life… I have watched the Republic survive. It seems a shame though that she has to survive in spite of many of us rather than because of us.

I think it particularly poignant just now to remember a quote from the first president elected while I watched: “… In the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

-Rock C. Sorensen
San Juan Island




SJI School Capital and Technology Levy Coming Up Again


This February 9th, our school district will ask the voters of San Juan Island to renew a Capital Projects and Technology Levy. This levy will both ensure ongoing maintenance and repair of our school buildings (which we the taxpayers own), as well as provide our students and teaching staff with the classroom space and technology infrastructure required to be productive citizens in this digital age.
School funding has been in the news a lot lately and it’s probably worth a quick discussion of how schools in the State of Washington are funded, what has happened recently, and why this levy is so important to our community.

There are four tax based sources intended for education: State, Federal, local Maintenance & Operations, and local Capital & Technology. State funding or what is normally referred to as Basic Education funding is provided on a per student basis. Approximately 80% of these dollars are dedicated to paying teachers and support position salaries. The remainder pays for operations of the schools; things like utility bills, insurance and limited classroom supplies. Next there is Federal funding, and you may have recently read the about the Every Student Succeeds Act. This replaces No Child Left Behind and did not provide any new funding, just different reporting requirements. Federal monies make up a small, but important portion of the funding for a district our size and are generally targeted at special programs aimed at supporting at-risk students. Both of these funding sources are restricted, meaning they can only be spent within very limited parameters and are not intended for construction or technology.

Locally we have a Maintenance and Operations Levy and a Capital and Technology Levy. These run every 2 years, on even years, and span 4 year cycles. Think of it like the Summer and Winter Olympic Games cycle. The Maintenance and Operations Levy makes up the difference between what the state and federal government formulas fund. It gives us our small class sizes at the elementary school and advanced placement classes at the secondary level through providing extra teaching staff. The Capital and Technology Levy is super simple - it funds the physical things you can see and touch - roofs, walls, windows, heating systems, desks, chairs, computers, monitors, printers, network and some of the staff associated with making sure all this stuff is maintained and supported. Additionally, the state provides little or no money for all this stuff. The overwhelming support for these two local levies speak volumes in terms of how each and every one of us value education and those who provide it in our community.

Finally, you may have heard about the McCleary Decision in the news. The short version is our State Supreme Court ruled the State of Washington is failing to fund basic education as defined by our state constitution. What the ruling actually recognizes is that without local levies, there is not enough money to run schools adequately and deliver the minimum “basic education”. In some districts across the state, when local levies fail - teachers are laid off, leaky roofs are not repaired and students do not receive an education that will allow them to be contributing members of our society. This year the state stepped up and funded minimum cost of living raises for teachers and all-day kindergarten in some districts. At some point the state will have to figure out how to meet all the terms of the McCleary Decision, but until that happens a significant portion of the responsibility of providing a quality education lies within each community.

I encourage you to support public education and ensure the right to a quality education is not a privilege of the wealthy or lucky, but the right of every child living on this island by voting YES. School funding is messy and complicated, but I am pretty sure we can all agree we would not want to live in a world that did not value the education of our youth.

If you have any questions regarding public education funding or specific items to be funded by the Capital and Technology Levy, please do not hesitate to contact me. My phone number and email address can be found on the district’s website under the school board tab. You can also find specific information at www.sjlevy.org.

Sincerely,
June Arnold, Chair, San Juan Island School Board




Questions Port Of FH Firing


(i)01-02-17(/i)


(i)11-18-16(/i)
A Way To Move Forward For The Port

We are writing this letter out of shock and anger for the termination of Joe Wheeler. Something has gone terribly wrong with the management of the Port if a loyal, hardworking, intelligent, honest and kind member of the Port community can be treated with such disrespect. In our years as Port tenants, we have never before witnessed such unprofessional and vindictive behavior. Now it seems to be the norm.

The culture of our beloved Port has been corrupted and you must act immediately to fix it. Making the wrong choice is something we all do. There is no shame in admitting a mistake. It just part of being human. You, as our elected leaders, are no different. Right now, you have the opportunity to do the right thing. Up until recently, the three of you have overseen a smooth operation because you had the right person at the helm. That is no longer the case. Clearly, you have made the wrong choice for Port Director. You have brought in someone who is not appropriate for our community. The Port has a long history of quality people working harmoniously to create a positive experience for locals, visitors and employees alike. At a time when your years of good works should be applauded they are instead being over shadowed by the behavior of an unsuitable manager.

We implore you as public servants entrusted with this very special civic asset to rectify this outrage. Remove the problem and reinstate Joe Wheeler immediately with your most profound apologies. If this is not something you feel you should do then you have failed us all and ought to resign right away.

Thank you for your time.

Lauren Cohen & Derek Steere
San Juan Canvas, LLC


(i)11-17-16(/i)

To the Editor:

I feel compelled to write this letter because the truth isn’t being told about the reason Joe Wheeler’s position as Marina Facilities Manager was eliminated from the Port of Friday Harbor.

The port director, Ted Fitzgerald, hides behind the excuse of the termination being a “budget issue”, when in fact it isn’t. Ted Fitzgerald told Joe Wheeler that he would probably fill this position after a couple months of review. Fitzgerald’s statement is a cover up for what is really the core reason Joe Wheeler was dismissed.

The real reason Joe Wheeler was dismissed is because he was holding the contractor foreman, who was working on the Downrigger project, accountable for project delays. When Joe Wheeler discussed this situation with Ted Fitzgerald, Joe was banned from going to the project site and Fitzgerald said that he would personally be overseeing the project. Please be aware that Fitzgerald and the contractor foreman on the Downrigger Project are close friends. Upon taking over the project, Fitzgerald performed little to no over site and went as far as to eliminate the standard weekly construction meetings with architects, owner and contractors.

Several days prior to Joe’s termination, he received compliments from the commissioners and an award for jobs well done.

I emailed all three Port Commissioners; Barbara Merritt, Mike Ahrenius, and Greg Hertel and asked them to please investigate this situation by checking with all of the port employees so they will understand the real reason Joe was dismissed. Not one of them investigated the truth. In fact, I received a return email from one of the commissioners stating that “this will only sting for a little while”.

So you can ruin a man’s career with a tap on the shoulder and not investigate the truth? What type of human beings would do that? Joe Wheeler was more than a competent employee; an employee that you had so much faith in before Marilyn’s retirement; more than qualified for his position, the support of his employees and his peers, and never a negative disciplinary action and you can say, “this will only sting for a little while”? Shame on you!

During the Port Commissioners meeting of November 9th, 2016, the people in attendance were told that they were only allowed 3 minutes for their statements. There was no interaction or discussion between port commissioners and attendees allowed at this meeting. When one lady asked when we would all hear what the outcome would be, their response was “later” and then we were all dismissed.

Minutes of this November 9th meeting will not be posted on the Port of Friday Harbor’s web site until after the November 30th, 2016 meeting and after Port Commissions approval. You will find the minutes for this meeting on “portfridayharbor.org” then go to “forms and documents” then to “minutes” and look for November 9th minutes.

You will see how many people from the Port of Friday Harbor addressed this issue and how much respect they have for Joe Wheeler and his job performance.

I am disgusted and ashamed of the three port commissioners for the job they DID NOT DO in investigating the cover up and termination of Joe Wheeler.
Joe’s job was sabotaged. I will not be voting for any of them when their positions become available for re-election. Integrity speaks volumes to personal character in this matter. Through all of this, I feel very strongly that our three port commissioners do not have the Port of Friday Harbor’s best interest in mind.

I truly feel that the new Port Director is threatened by Joe’s knowledge and performance and therefore Joe had to go.

Rynnie Wilson
San Juan Island


(i)11-14-16(/i)

To the Editor:

The community of Friday Harbor and all of San Juan Island should be embarrassed and ashamed of the termination of Joe Wheeler's employment at the Port of Friday Harbor.

It's no doubt that Joe's accomplishments, relationships, and qualifications have lead to his dismissal. I would ask all those employed with the Port of Friday Harbor to question their future and to speak up, like some already have, and bring to light this act of cowardice perpetrated by the Port Director Ted Fitzgerald. We need to acknowledge the sentiment of the staff, contractors, and others associated with Joe's role at the Port of Friday Harbor and question what has happened. The lack of oversight by the commissioners in this matter is frightening and needs to be questioned.

For the sake of our town my only hope is that this mistake can be corrected before it is too late. People with talent and integrity like Joe Wheeler are hard to come by. Ted Fitzgerald has made a terrible error and should be held accountable. One can only wonder what other poor decisions are being made at this level with the inadequate supervision of the commissioners.

This is not acceptable.

Jason Harrison
Brown Island




Open Letter To OPALCO Board


Dear OPALCO board members:

I would like to clarify the facts regarding the charge given to the volunteer elections committee.

In his report to you in June, Foster listed the following as the charge to the committee:
1.Nominating committee
2. Election details and candidate outreach
3. Balloting materials
4. Candidate forums protocol
5. Voting process

Foster’s list followed an April 22 OPALCO press release regarding Rock Island’s blatant step to influence the election. It said “The questions that came up at today’s meeting will be examined, such as: How does the nominating process work? Should OPALCO hold candidate forums? How should incumbents be listed on the ballot? Should the timing of candidate forums be changed?”

It is disingenuous for Foster now to say that the charge to the committee was broad enough to delve into the make-up of the board, and further to expend OPALCO resources promoting those recommendations in member meetings and encouraging the board to hold a special meeting, ahead of the opportunity for member comment, to advance those recommendations.

It puzzles me why you accept having to spend your time cleaning up Foster’s many messes. First, he manages the finances so poorly that a loan covenant is violated, a corrective plan has to be submitted to our lender and the board is forced to raise rates twice in four months to maintain compliance.

Then he stands by as Rock Island, of which he is general manager, sends out an email trying to influence the board election, and then defends that action when challenged. It is only after you apparently made it clear to him that this was unacceptable that he apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again. In the meantime, the credibility of OPALCO was further damaged.

You shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there would have been no need for a member committee to look at the election process had Foster not so badly mismanaged it in the first place. And then he lets the committee run widely off course and subjects the organization, and you, to more questions about actual intent of management and of you - especially in the face of the overwhelming membership rejection of a similar proposal a few months ago.

That you have been so accepting of his mismanagement must explain why he felt it was reasonable for him recently to ask you to raise his salary to $250,000. That you didn’t agree s to your credit; that you haven’t dismissed him is not.

As I have suggested many times over the past three years, and did again at the “open house” on Shaw, the key to restoring the level of trust that OPALCO previously enjoyed from its members is to be honest about the investments OPALCO actually has made in support of its entry into the Internet business and what the impact of those has been on electric rates. I you truly believe this is a smart business venture, as well as an important public-service contribution for the cooperative to make, then defend it honestly. Until you do, you can expect the lack of trust to grow.

Further, advancing the recommended changes in the board make-up in any way - either by acting on them on your own or putting them before the membership this spring - will further erode trust.

Finally, I noted in the last board packet the staff’s request that the board “review” Rock Island’s governance structure. It was bad enough that management presented the board and the membership last spring with Rock Island financial and operating statements that privately had been lowered by about 20% from what had been presented publicly in the 2016 budget process. It is also a bad sign to members that the board has refused to let the membership see Rock Island’s latest business plan, of considerable interest given the significant investment of member dollars and previous plans showing Rock Island becoming the goose that will lay golden eggs of profit for OPALCO. Taking any further steps to cloak Rock Island in secrecy will only further erode membership trust in the board and management, especially when we discover there will be no golden eggs.

Respectfully,

Alex MacLeod
OPALCO Member




Response to "OPALCO, a Co-op in Name Only"


This Guest Column perpetuates a common misunderstanding of what a co-operative is. A co-operative is not an organization dedicated to a general democracy where members, swayed by their concerns of the moment, vote on every issue they think they know more than management. A consumer co-operative such as OPALCO is an organization capitalized by its customers with one vote per member. This form of capitalization is unrelated to the level of member participation in the management of the co-operative’s structure and business. Mr. MacLeod's letter disseminates the misunderstanding in order to criticize individuals. It provides no service to the membership, and no thanks to volunteers who supported by staff, have stepped up to serve their co-operative.

Bill Appel
Waldron




Attempt To Change OPALCO’s Election Process


(09-29-16)

To the Editor:

As a co-op, OPALCO is accountable to and regulated by no one but its members. The main mechanism by which members exert control over the board is by voting out directors who do a poor job of representing us. OPALCO board set up a Member Review Committee on Elections to review the election process. Some of the committee’s recommendations threaten to reduce the board’s accountability, dilute member power and make voting less fair.

Dilution of members’ power

One recommendation of the committee is to introduce up to two additional board positions to be appointed by the OPALCO board, instead of being directly elected by members. Moreover, these two “expert” directors need not be OPALCO members. Given that the mission of the committee is to enable “members to feel fairly and well-represented,” I fail to see how the proposal will lead to anything but worsened representation and dilution of members’ power.

Muddied accountability

The committee also calls for only two board positions to be elected by members at large (instead of seven). For the remaining five positions, directors would be “elected by district” with Orcas and San Juan residents electing two each, and Lopez & Shaw residents combined electing one.

The board’s accountability to membership gets muddied when most directors are accountable only to their own little district. Most OPALCO decisions affect members on all islands, but with the proposed changes, the directors steering OPALCO would have divergent accountability. This seems like a recipe for divisiveness and confusion at a time when OPALCO needs solidification of members’ support the most.

“Elect by district” votes unequal and unfair

When each member votes for all directors, not just a portion of the board, each voting member, regardless of where s/he resides, has equal influence over the outcome of each election. This system preserves the one-member-one-vote rule.

In contrast, “election by district” would have two San Juan positions elected by 5000 members, two Orcas positions elected by 3700, and one Lopez/Shaw position elected by 2500. This means that a vote from San Juan, Lopez and Shaw counts as only 74% of an Orcas vote.

Disrespect of members’ majority vote

At the 2016 Annual Meeting on April 30, Rob Thesman’s member-initiated bylaw amendment attempted to “reapportion the number of directors’ seats attributable to each of the Districts”. It was struck down by the majority vote (60%). Now we find Thesman on this new committee, and the committee proposes to insert the same idea via a back-door approach. Such action is disrespectful to the voting members.

This particular point illustrates that this OPALCO committee is not representative of or aligned with the interests of the majority of the members, and should thus be treated by the board accordingly.

OPALCO will be holding an Open House on each of the four major islands from October 6-11. Show up and let OPALCO know your opinion on this important issue.

Chom Greacen




LETTERS ON SJI EMS LEVY


---------------------------------------
(07-29-16)



To the Editor:

After reading Mr. Bucholz letter, I got to thinking about this new EMS levy and its 43% increase. This has already been voted down twice, but instead of addressing the issues, the proponents seemed to have simply returned with a strident campaign and a not so subtle threat to approve the levy or lose all EMS services. That smacks of a gun-to-the-head approach to me, but let’s look at their issues:


Transparency-None of the issues presented have been accompanied by hard data
Lower property appraisals-Median home value INCREASED 21% state-wide
Salary reductions-Claimed, but without supporting data
Inflation-At record low levels in the period 2010 thru 2015
Loss of air transport reimbursements-Claimed, but without supporting data
Reduced Medicare reimbursement -

From CMS.gov: HCPCS codes A0425 thru A0429,A0433,A0434& A0888 (Medicare ground ambulance service categories) actually INCREASED from 2010 to 2016 by approximately 5.4%

It doesn’t look like this justifies a 43% levy increase.

Remember that their catch phrase, “Nobody ever pays anything” is simple a euphemism for “Everybody always pays everything”

Why does it matter? And what should we do?

Full disclosure here: I am going to represent the special interest group of islanders with incomes between $45k and $75/ year. These are the people without the numerous safety net programs (fully subsided healthcare premiums, power bill assistance, food stamps, property tax relief, etc.). These are people who might well aspire to a median priced home, for whom the property tax is a second mortgage. Let’s look at the record:

Type Amount
2009 November Property Tax Increase senior services, fair, parks .60/$1,000
2010 February Property Tax Increase EMS &transportation .35/$1,000
February Property Tax Increase School Levy .66/$1,000
2011 August Property Tax Increase Library .39/$1,000
November Real Property Fee Solid waste usage
November Real estate excise tax Land Bank- conservation areas in the county 1% of sale
2012 February Property Tax Increase School Levy .27/$1,000
August Sales Tax Increase public safety and criminal justice 3/10th of 1%
2013 February Property Tax Increase Fire protection & EMS .213/$1,000
2014 November Property Tax Increase Six year levy lid lift .18/$1,000
2015 November Property Tax Increase Parks and Rec .385/$1,000
2015 November Sales Tax Increase Friday Harbor road improvement 2/10th of 1%

It matters, because at some point people will ask, “How much is enough?”, and stop approving all tax increases. We should send them back to bring us a well presented budget with a reasonable increase in the 5-10% range.

Remember, we are not just taxing rich Californians with multimillion dollar summer homes, we are taxing every county family that aspires to a better housing solution. Maybe we should hear from all the people out there in the $45-$75k income bracket…Until then…this is for you…

I'm a little taxpayer, short of clout
Here is my pension, of small amount
Noone on the island should have to pout
Sooo, tip me over and clean me out

Cheers,

Dave Ambrose


---------------------------------------
(07-26-16)



To the Editor:

When our child had their first epileptic seizure, we called 911. That was our introduction to SJ EMS. Within minutes the best possible medical care - and much needed support for everyone in our family - had arrived. Now that our grandson lives here, knowing that we have excellent emergency medical services makes us appreciate SJ EMS all the more.

This is a 6-year levy. We have the Hospital Commissioners in place to ensure that our property taxes are well utilized with transparent budgets, expenditures, and reports.

SJ EMS, along with all our first responder services, is the backbone of island life.
Please join us in voting YES for EMS!

Lovel and Boyd Pratt
San Juan Island

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(07-20-16)
Vote For EMS Levy Proposition



To the Editor:

Over the past few months I've been watching and listening to the many comments about the upcoming EMS levy. Some have been very positive and a few have shared how their lives were saved because of the dedicated, well trained aid crews. Others have voiced serious concerns over the financial woes that have plagued the mostly volunteer organization. Some have even gone so far as to say that the late Frank Wilson, the much revered and loved former chief of SJIEMS, would be rolling over in his grave over this, and I agree, but not for the reasons some would have you believe.

Frank developed a reputation as a gifted leader earned by his dedication to his job and the ability to bring people together. After some tough times following his tours in Vietnam, he found solace and peace by serving his community. I first got to know Frank in the 1970's when I joined the town fire department as a high school sophomore. His mild temperament and trust in others made him a leader that we all respected and loved. Over the next few years he became many things to me, a friend, brother and after my dad passed a couple years later, a father figure. He showed by example that service to others is an honor. Because of people like Frank I've filled my adult life with service to our community. Leaders like him come along once in a lifetime. He built the foundation that San Juan Island Emergency Medical Services ideals rest on. Yes, there has been some poor management from both our prior chief and the hospital board but that foundation is as strong as ever! I do believe he may be spinning in his grave knowing that there are those that are willing to throw it all away. In our disposable society it has become so easy to discard what we think is broken. EMS deserves no less than it has done for so many, a sincere effort to be revived and be given a new lease on life.

The financial problems that haunt EMS companies across this country are growing. The levy only covers part of the expenses, the rest is made up from payments from Medicare, insurance and payment from those that live outside the service area. Little can be done about the shrinking reimbursements from Medicare or some insurance companies.

If you have never had the opportunity to help save a life, I can tell you that there is nothing like it in the world, now is your chance to do so. Please don't throw away a world class organization, save it, repair it. We really don't want to let it go and be faced with starting all over from scratch. Save your friends, save your spouse, save your neighbors, save our visitors, save your children and save yourself. Please, Save EMS.

Herb Mason
Friday Harbor

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(07-20-16)
EMS Levy Proposition Re: Taxes



To the Editor:

I support the San Juan EMS taxing district and its importance for emergency medical assistance in conjunction with swift hospitalization if necessary. Yes, the six-year tax revenue for the district is terminating at the end of the year unless the voting public approves a tax levy renewal. We voters have received ballot information from the proponents of the proposition that illustrates the necessity of passing a $.50 per $1,000 of assessed value tax rate. The tax rate helps the tax payer to determine what the tax burden will be for the property owner. However, what is missing in promoting the passage of the proposition is the approximate tax revenue that initially will or could be collected beginning 2017 tax year.

What taxpayers are asked to approve, is the initial tax revenue that could be collected if the proposition passes. This information has not come forth from the proponents of the EMS $.50 levy. Let’s take a look at what the current EMS 2016 tax revenue was certified for collection and compare it to what is being proposed.

The 2016 EMS certified revenue based on a $.35 tax rate is $1,001,986. The proposed 2017 tax revenue based on a $.50 tax rate will generate approximately $1,431,409, or a 42.8% increase. If the 2016 assessed value of the district should increase, the actual revenue could be slightly more.

If the proposition passes, the Hospital Commission has the authority to decide to collect all or less of the EMS allowable revenue without penalty in future years.

Paul Dossett
Friday Harbor

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(07-20-16)



To the Editor:

I am writing this in support for the up-coming levy for EMS. I have lived here for 25 years, with a diabetic husband. I raised two children here and live close to my elderly mother. Every single time I have had to call 911 for one reason or another, I have been served the most amazing and thorough care, usually with a smile and a can-do attitude. Our medics show up to help on our worst day, at our worst time. They come quickly, and get right to work, being so respectful of our space and of our vulnerabilities and they do it professionally and with humor when it is warranted. ( A diabetic episode has involved some naked ballet dancing, on the part of the diabetic, unbeknownst to him at the time).

I have been flown off island for treatment, and have witnessed loved ones being cared for in the most amazing of situations. Our medics and para-medics are the best of the best and island life as we know it would not be the same without this service. I will always be so grateful for the kindness and level of professionalism I have experienced with our EMS. I am voting yes!

Sincerely,
Myah & Lloyd Thompson
San Juan Island

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(07-19-16)



To the Editor:

Voters of San Juan County Public Hospital District #1, consisting of San Juan and nearby islands, are encouraged to vote YES in favor of the emergency medical services (EMS) property tax levy proposal on their August 2 ballot received in the mail last week. None of the levy proceeds would go to support Peace Island Hospital.

There is no denying that the Hospital District is in financial crisis. This crisis will only be resolved by approval of the proposed EMS levy of $0.50 per thousand of assessed value that would replace the current levy of $0.35 per thousand that expires on December 31, 2016. (For a house assessed at $400,000, the increase is equivalent to only $5 per month.) Without a new levy at the increased rate, EMS on San Juan Island would cease to exist as we know it in early 2017, with a resultant increase in the risk of loss of life for island residents and visitors alike. There is a good reason communities across the county, both rural and urban, have EMS service. Without it, imagine who would come to your aid if you suffer a heart attack or a stroke, fall off your roof, cut off a finger with a saw, or your visiting grandchild goes into anaphylactic shock.

I am voting YES because I am terrified about what would happen to my family and other residents if the the levy measure fails now or in November. I am 73 years old and want the best possible emergency service if I, my wife, my children, or my grandchildren have a medical emergency. Only a financially strong EMS can provide this capability.

Critics of the proposed levy miss the point when they focus on their claim of inflated costs, which is a problem of the past, if it was ever was one. Instead, the Hospital District's current financial crisis is the result of two much more significant factors, both outside of its management's control.

First, as a result of restrictive state law, the Hospital District has suffered a significant reduction in tax revenues over the last six years due to a decline in property values. According to the county assessor's office, between 2010 and 2016, assessed property values in the district declined by $678 million, or 19%, resulting in a cumulative $1,100,000 reduction in the Hospital District's tax revenues during this period compared to what they would have been if property values had simply remained flat. In 2016 alone, the decline was $237,000.

This decline in tax revenue is the result of a highly prejudicial state law which regulates EMS levies throughout the state differently than those of other local taxing districts. Specifically, EMS is not allowed to adjust its levy rate upwards in years when property values decline in order to maintain the same amount of tax revenues that it collected the prior year. In contrast, our schools, library, fire department, Island Rec, etc. are all allowed to raise their levy rates to maintain the same level of tax revenue. Image what our school system would look like if it were subject to this same process.

But it gets worse, as state law severely restricts the Hospital District's ability to recover lost tax revenues whenever property values increase, instead limiting tax revenue increases to 1% per year no matter how great the increase in assessed property values. Therefore, it will be many years, if ever, until the Hospital District recovers at the current levy rate its $1,100,000 decline in tax revenues in 2010-2016 EVEN IF there is a strong recovery in real estate values. Although other taxing districts are subject to this same 1% annual limit, they are not subject to annual tax revenue declines in the first place that need to be recovered.

Secondly, the reimbursement rates paid to the Hospital District by Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies are far from sufficient to cover the corresponding costs of service. For example, today Medicare, which is the source of 57% of the total reimbursements paid to the Hospital District, together with supplemental insurance if a patient has it, pay up to a total of only $437 to the Hospital District for Advanced Life Support 1, a service that costs the district $1,350 to provide. The Hospital District writes off the difference for local residents, who account for 83% of total emergency calls. (In the case of non-residents, it attempts to collect the difference.) What other type of business could survive this inverted cost structure without substantial and on-going tax support from the community it serves?

Finally, kicking the can down the road to the November general election is not a responsible option given the negative impact it would have on staff numbers and employee morale. Even if the levy were to be approved in November, EMS could very well be a skeleton by then.

Let's not get any closer to the December 31 abyss. Vote YES for the EMS levy on August 2.

David Dehlendorf
San Juan Island


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(07-16-16)



To the Editor:

We support the EMS levy and we encourage you to as well. Our family has been lucky enough to receive stellar care from the volunteer EMT's, Paramedic's and staff. If you, your friends and/or family are ever in need you'll be glad you voted YES. The service they provide is something we can't afford to lose.

Please vote YES for EMS!

Lisa and Jim Lawrence
San Juan Island


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(07-16-16)



To the Editor:

In a letter to the editor entitled Facts and opinion the campaign committee for EMS. stated that I was incorrect in stating that a friend was billed $17,000.00 in ambulance fees. Rest assured I check facts or I wouldn’t have print it! $17000.00 was the cost of ambulance transport billed to his insurance, ( unless you are one of those people that believe if insurance pays it there is no actual cost to you.) If this was “another accounting mistake” by EMS or not I have no Idea.

Hopefully his insurance company negotiated a reasonable compensation for actual services rendered.
In further research I did figure out where this committee came up with a 50 CENT PER THOUSAND/43% INCREASE levy amount before having a budget hammered out. Washington State law will only allow up to 50 cents per thousand of assessed property valuation. The District would be allowed to levy up to this amount but historically has levied only 35 cents per thousand.

Yep!! They just went for the largest levy LEGALLY ALLOWED. Saves a lot of bothersome calculating.

Please don’t forget this is a six year levy.

Please think before you vote.

Cal Bucholz
San Juan Island


---------------------------------------
(07-15-16)



To the Editor:

I am writing to urge the 60 percent-plus approval of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) levy.

This is not only based upon 21 years experience here as a national park ranger, accustomed to dealing with emergencies, but also as a household member who has witnessed consistently skilled treatment that only a professional organization can deliver.

It is no accident that San Juan Island is celebrated for having one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the nation. As the old adage goes in the San Juans: “If you’re going to have a heart attack, have it here.”

When an emergency call is made here today, it is likely that the first responder to your door will be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), a volunteer who has had hundreds of hours of training. It is also very likely there will be more than one (they all monitor their radios), and there is a good chance it may be someone you know. Following quickly on the EMT is a paramedic, a seasoned professional who can perform advanced life support, such as place advanced airways, start IVs and administer medications as needed.

Take my word for it: You want these people at your door on “the worst day of your life,” as EMS Chief Jerry Martin recently described a typical call on a San Juan County resident. I called for them twice within an eight-hour period several years ago, the last at four in the morning. They were there within 10 minutes on both occasions and went right to work. While the paramedic and two EMTs were doing everything they could to save my partner’s life, another EMT was at my side, ensuring my well being and calmly going over what I needed to have for a med-evac to Seattle. Still another EMT drove me to the red-eye ferry, which had been held by Dispatch.

This was tangible evidence of training in action and what made me a life-long believer in the efficacy of professional EMS. But there’s more. EMS also provides CPR/Basic First training to citizens like you and me. As a park ranger, I arranged with EMS for CPR/First Aid training for my summer staff, as does every business and government organization that serves the public here. Though I have never had to perform CPR, I know I can render it thanks to years of training with professionals such as Lainey Volk, who stays current on the latest in emergency medicine. The next time you walk through King’s, attend a football game or wait in the ferry line, take comfort in the knowledge that a number of folks around you have probably taken courses in the EMS barn.

Believe me, this levy is a small price to pay for the peace of mind in knowing that my family, friends and neighbors have a chance at life.

Mike Vouri
San Juan Island


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(07-09-16)



To the Editor:

Since the time this place first captivated me, newly retired and escaping the harsh and often socially dysfunctional far north, I have been heartened by the active island community dialogue, well-attended forums and town meetings that invite participation here. A polite atmosphere nearly always prevails even when hearing fact-challenged views that defy credulity.

There is a cohering effect in participation, in questioning authority and speaking one’s mind in front of the community that can rewire the community mind-set. No one person always gets it right. Nor can one often be on the “winning” side. At some point you have to step back a bit and take the bigger perspective and support a thing that is right for the greatest number of residents.

For the third time in so many years we are wrestling with the EMS levy. One thing should be beyond debate: the availability of emergency response and rapid medical treatment can seriously affect every single resident or visitor, in any given moment of need.

When my family and friends visit, some joyously young, many a bit long in the tooth, our shared, yet unspoken expectation is we are reasonably protected. Even on an island, or its surrounding waters with only a single source of rapid emergency response, one can have a chance to make it to see another day should tragedy or accident strike.

I voted NO in the last two EMS levy efforts because I grew to have serious, factually informed doubts as to the bureaucratic efficiency of EMS and the quality of the information conveyed to voters. I didn’t doubt the integrity of the individuals involved nor entertain a notion that we could all live with a 1970s era EMS.

A couple of things way outside of our control limit our options in this decision. First, is the outrageously expensive for-profit American health care system. Second, we must by law fund our EMS from property taxes which are based upon assessed values that inflate or deflate over time in no predictable manner.

We have rightly voted to support our library and Island Recreation through similar tax levies, as valuable community assets. However, they are in no way critical to sustaining life and well-being like professional EMS services are.

With fresh faces and talents in place at the Hospital District (some previously critical of the medical services status quo) and EMS, greater transparency, a clearer justification for the levy increase and a readable 2017 budget posted for public scrutiny, we should now step up to rebuild trust and retain excellent local employees (and volunteers) by voting YES on the present EMS levy.

A thriving community is a collective expression of the values of each one of us who cares enough to vote. Let’s not throw out the good in a futile search for the perfect. Vote YES for EMS.

Steve Ulvi
San Juan Island


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(07-06-16)
35-Cent Levy Will Harm Islanders



To the Editor:

A recent letter [//7th letter below -Ed//] to the editor concluded with the statement: "Rejecting the levy to punish EMS for past failures will only harm all islanders."

I would add that rejecting it hoping to be offered a 35-cent levy in November, as advocated by Jack Cory and others, will also surely harm islanders.

Technically there could be another vote in November, but what keeps employees here with that sort of uncertainty? If they leave, who will replace them? Do we want to add more turmoil to a department that has seen its share in recent years?

The difference between a 35-cent and a 50-cent levy is just $60 a year on a property assessed at $400,000.

The 2017 budget unanimously approved last week by the public hospital district commissioners, and posted on line at sjcphd.org, reflects the reality we face today:

1) Rising costs for everything, and reduced revenue from Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance;

2) Salaries for the four paramedics determined through collective bargaining mediation which are significantly lower than they could be earning elsewhere in the state;

3) And of special note, emergency service provided to all residents at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient beyond what their insurance pays.

Could this be sustained with a smaller budget? No, it couldn't.

I call this to the attention of island voters, because I think many of us simply assume that when we have medical distress of some sort there will be someone we can call who will come and help.

If that sort of service is no longer funded (and without passage of a levy it won't be after the end of 2016) who will be there to come to our aid?

If we don't fund the EMS, shall we also un-fund the fire district, the sheriff, the public schools, the library, and everything else that makes this a safe, civilized place to live?

Louise Dustrude
Friday Harbor


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(07-06-16)
Scare Tactics or Duty to Disclose?



To the Editor:

In her article in The Island Guardian entitled “ Nothing but Scare Tactics ” (7/4/16), Leslie Brennan challenges the credibility of the Vote Yes for EMS 2016 campaign.

She states that “EMS is not going away if you vote no in this August election”. On the contrary, there is no question that EMS will cease operations if the current levy is allowed to expire without a replacement, and little question that EMS will lose its critical staff if we wait until the last month.

Without public funding, salaries cannot be paid, ambulances, radios, pagers and equipment cannot be maintained, paramedics and EMTs cannot even practice without an agency association. So I leave it to the voters to decide whether our campaign to save EMS is a scare tactic or the disclosure of truthful information.

She asks leading questions about whether EMS has “made necessary reductions in personnel, salaries, or reduced their expenses in other ways”, and asks “Are they really being more transparent?”

Yes, EMS HAS made substantial reductions in administrative staff and salaries and yes, the SJCPHD board HAS been transparent. Unlike most agencies that don’t publish their budget forecasts until the end of the year, this board published a 2017 budget in June and declared that “a budget that is supportable at the $.50 per $1000 assessed valuation is proposed and needed in any 2016 levy”.

This decision stems from months of scrutinizing the budget with the new EMS Chief, a 3-person citizen budget review committee, and a new outside accountant. They realized that for a variety of reasons (a drop in assessed property values resulting in $1.1 million less than expected revenue, higher costs for drugs, supplies and equipment, aging ambulances & life-saving equipment, and just plain old inflation), agency operations cannot be sustained on less than 50 cents.

She asks how EMS has changed. There have been MANY changes. There are three new commissioners. The agency has a new chief. The paramedics and staff have taken cuts in pay and benefits. Employee positions have been eliminated. Administrative costs have been cut. She needs to do a bit more fact-finding to discover that the 11% cut in pay and benefits for medics is correct. Yes, it’s more complicated than comparing 2015 to 2017; one must compare the wage schedule, years of experience for each medic, job descriptions, level of certification, health care benefits and other factors. If she finds that confusing, she can talk with Chief Martin or any of the commissioners so that she can be well-informed before making misleading public statements.

These facts are all part of public record and all as transparent as they can be; one must just look for, read and understand them.

So, it’s one thing to cast doubt, and another to do the hard work of maintaining an efficient EMS agency that will continue to give us world-class care.

Rebecca K. Smith
San Juan Island


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(07-05-16)
Vote YES On EMS



To the Editor:

Our Emergency Medical Services on San Juan Island are essential to our community. Without them, lives will be lost and "normal" emergencies will become critical and potentially fatal. There have been a lot of misunderstandings regarding the funding for EMS and Peace Island Medical Center. It is essential to understand that they are in no way partners in funding. EMS has no financial relationship with Peace Island Medical Center. The decline in real estate taxes and lower reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid have made the 2010 tax rate of 35 cents per $1000 of assessed property value no longer feasible for operating SJIEMS. Passing the EMS levy at 50 cents per $1000 will insure continuity of services that are basic and critical. Our team of paramedics and EMTs has one of the highest cardiac save rates in the country. We are blessed to have such devoted and skilled emergency personnel on San Juan Island. Saving EMS means saving ourselves. Vote YES.

Robbie Lawson
Friday Harbor


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(07-05-16)
Health & Lives Dependent On EMS Aug Vote



To the Editor:

We have been fortunate for many years to have a dedicated and highly competent emergency medical services organization on San Juan Island. We have benefited from Frank Wilson’s leadership since the 1970s in establishing the framework for today’s organization. As one example of our good fortune, the survival of patients with cardiac arrest has been demonstrated since 1978 to be better than any other rural area in the country, based largely on rapid response times and the competence of responding paramedics and EMTs. Paramedics as well as EMTs respond to every call.

The last several years have seen progress but also some problems with inflated costs and other concerns that led to confusion and failure to pass the last two EMS levies. The past and current budget at 35 cents/$1,000 assessed valuation is not sustainable, would require major cuts in essential services, and leave nothing for capital investment in necessary equipment.

Under the leadership of the newly elected Hospital District Board, which oversees both EMS and the Peace Health Island Medical Center over a 50-year contract, the 2017 EMS budget has been clarified and brought into line with a 50 cents/$1,000 budget without out-of-pocket costs for district islanders. That has required cuts of some administrative positions, but preserves the essential EMS services -basic and advanced life support as well as community education and safety programs, and also allows some funding for capital equipment. As one example of community education programs, more than 1,000 islanders have been trained in CPR and use of automatic defibrillators in the last year.

The 2017 budget has received the unanimous support of the Hospital District commissioners. At this level, taxpayers with a house assessed at $200,000 will pay $100 a year, while those with assessed values of $400,000 pay $200 a year - a great bargain considering what we receive in return. Any lower budget would require cutting or eliminating some programs.

This year’s EMS levy, which goes to a vote on August 2, with ballots mailed out on July 15, is a must pass. Our health and even lives are dependent on its passage.

John & Emily Geyman
San Juan Island


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(07-05-16)
Avoid Chaos - Vote Yes for EMS



To the Editor:

In his July 4 editorial in the IslandGuardian, entitled "If Board Files For Nov EMS Election It Will Mirror The August Election", publisher Jack Cory suggests we vote down the EMS levy and force EMS to once again consolidate with San Juan Fire. This would disrupt existing services and would not result in better care or more efficient service.

EMS started under San Juan Fire in 1979, when we didn't have a hospital district. In 1995, San Juan voters reorganized EMS as a separate rescue medical service to coordinate its work with the InterIsland Medical Center. This was and remains the best format for providing emergency medical care on San Juan Island.

Comparing our services with Orcas Island Fire and Rescue (OIFR ), a dual agency, proves the point. Our EMS agency is second to none in quality. And, the levy for OIFR will exceed the combined San Juan EMS and San Juan Fire Fire levies by 4% per capita, even with the passage of our 50 cent EMS levy.

Others have suggested privatization, an idea with disastrous consequences in many rural communities, as documented in the New York Times article entitled "When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers", published last week,
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/business/dealbook/when%2Dyou%2Ddial%2D911%2Dand%2Dwall%2Dstreet%2Danswers.html (for those who cannot or do not load the link, it has to do with a private business, not a public agency, running EMS -Ed)

San Juan EMS will continue to provide outstanding rescue medical services if we simply provide the resources that the agency needs to get back on a sound financial footing.

Loren Johnson
Friday Harbor


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(07-04-16)
Nothing But Scare Tactics



To the Editor:

I was an original member of the EMS Levy Committee and was very hopeful that I could support the new EMS Levy. Unfortunately, after time it became clear that how they intended to get this levy to pass was unacceptable. No needed cuts since the first and second failed levy attempts in February and November of 2014 have been made and EMS has not shown that they really need our tax money.

In a letter to the editor, Rebecca Smith (Treasurer for the EMS Levy Committee) stated; “Public funds must be assessed carefully and utilized in a transparent and cost effective manner”. I agree with that. But, this is a statement that should inspire us to ask more questions like; How has EMS changed? Have they made necessary reductions in personnel, salaries, or reduced their expenses in other ways? Are they really being more transparent?

We are all good, honest, hardworking people and should be well informed when making important decisions that affect our quality of life here on the island. We should not be kept willfully ignorant or fed information that has no basis in fact or is simply not true. Rebecca stated that the paramedics have taken an 11% cut in pay and benefits per their recent union negotiations, but when I look at 2015 compared to the 2017 contract rates, I calculate less than half of that amount.

Right now, the EMS Levy Committee is providing nothing but scare tactics hoping that voters will base their vote on fear of losing EMS (rather than fact). I believe we have a large population of voters, who are critical thinkers and will not just vote based on emotions and fear. EMS is not going away if you vote no in this August election.

Voters should sift through everything they see, hear and read, pro and con and make an informed decision on how to vote in the primary election. And this is only the Primary Election. If there are still questions unanswered and changes yet to be made, EMS can file for another levy before the General Election in November and “get it right”.

Leslie Brennan
San Juan Island


---------------------------------------
(07-01-16)
Vote On Facts, Not Emotions



To the Editor:

A recent article about the EMS levy posted in the Guardian is based on an incorrect assumption: that if the levy is not passed in August, the board will “simply extend the levy rate to a ballot measure in November”. This is NOT correct.
In their June 30 special board meeting, the commissioners confirmed that core EMS services would be impossible to maintain with anything less than a $.50/$1000 assessed valuation levy.

They voted unanimously to adopt a 2017 EMS budget based on the 50 cent rate. They also consented to and will request the same 50-cent amount as the basis of all levies filed by the board in 2016, ie. if the board files another levy in November, it will still be for 50 cents. This decision stems from months of scrutinizing the budget with a citizen budget review committee, the new EMS Chief Jerry Martin and the agency’s new accountant Chris Compton. They realized that for a variety of reasons (drop in assessed property values resulting in less revenue, higher costs for drugs, supplies & equipment, aging ambulances, etc.), agency operations cannot be sustained on less than 50 cents.

The commissioners and the agency are committed to reducing costs and increasing revenue. The public elected 3 new commissioners, we have a new chief, the paramedics have taken an 11% cut in pay and benefits, staff has taken an 8.5% cut in pay and benefits, administrative costs have been cut, and efforts continue to improve financial and operational efficiency.

NOW is the time to vote yes. We can’t afford to loose this essential public service.

Rebecca K. Smith
San Juan Island


---------------------------------------
(06-30-16)
Join Me & Vote “Yes.”


To the Editor:

Our newly constituted Hospital District Board of Commissioners, with three members elected in the wake of widespread discontent with the transition to the new hospital and management of EMS by previous leadership, is asking us to authorize an increased levy for emergency services.

There is understandable skepticism about the need for a 50 cent levy to replace the current 35 cent levy. However, those of us who have made the effort to understand the rationale for the increase presented by the commissioners, volunteer budget committee, and EMS Chief are now convinced that the 15 cent per $1000 increase is justified by reduced property values, increased costs, and the need to make delayed capital improvements.

This is not to say that many mistakes were not made in the past. However, the new board and EMS Chief are working hard to correct these errors, guarantee transparency, and ensure that earlier errors are not repeated by the new leadership. Our conclusion is that the only way to maintain our excellent emergency services is to vote “yes” on August 2. Now is the time to look forward and empower EMS leadership to implement these well-justified changes. Rejecting the levy to punish EMS for past failures will only harm all islanders.

Please join me and vote “yes.”

Susan Dehlendorf


---------------------------------------
(06-27-16)
Vote On Facts, Not Emotions


To the Editor:

Call me skeptical, but it appears that San Juan Island EMS is asking the taxpayers to go round three on raising their levy 42% based on just their word. To date, there is no approved and final budget for 2017 or even an updated budget for 2016 to evaluate whether EMS is actually fiscally responsible this go around.

The previous 2 levy increase requests were rejected by taxpayers when it was revealed that the previous administration did not ‘have their ducks in a row’ financially. Now we have a new EMS Administrator who is new to the islands and unknown to most of us. Are we expected to just ‘take his word’ that he will use this 42% levy increase to make our EMS a financially sustainable operation for now and into the future? Is he learning and correcting the errors of the previous administration or is he just continuing the same financial mistakes they made? We should not rush this levy decision and give him a blank check.

With no final approved budgets to review and with the primary only a few weeks away, my skepticism says let’s not rush this process by voting with emotions, instead of facts, for the primary election. Let’s wait until the General Election in November to give them still another chance to get their financial future in order.

Sincerely,
Scott Brennan
San Juan Island


---------------------------------------
(06-23-16)
For EMS


To the Editor:

Have you ever experienced a medical emergency? Do you know anyone who has? Here on San Juan Island, we’re very fortunate to have a truly excellent Emergency Medical Service in our times of need. Soon, we will have the opportunity to continue funding our outstanding and much-needed EMS. Consider- without this funding, as of next year, we would no longer have one. (Editor's comment: If this levy fails, it is expected there will a vote for a new levy in November )

Be sure to vote in the August 2nd primary election, urge your friends and family to vote, and please, vote for the EMS levy- it’s a “no-brainer”, and it’s a bargain!
(Truth in letter-writing disclosure: briefly, in the late 80’s, I was an emergency medical technician. The illustrations in our training text piqued my youngest daughter’s interest at an early age, and she is currently an EMT on the island.)

Thank you,
Alison Longley
San Juan Island


---------------------------------------
(06-22-16)
We support the proposed EMS levy


To the Editor:

As part-time residents of San Juan Island for thirty years, we have heard many positive reports about the quality and caring of our EMS providers and want to add one more. Many years ago, we asked a friend to take care of our dog while we were off-island. That day she experienced a severe allergic reaction to a prescription drug. EMS personnel responded very quickly, administered immediate aid and arranged for her to be flown to Anacortes for treatment. Their actions saved her life. The responding EMT's even made sure our dog was safe and cared for until our return. The proposed $0.50 levy will allow them to continue to provide these essential services to everyone regardless of their ability to pay while our new hospital board and a citizen's budget review committee work to improve efficiency and restore financial stability to the organization. Please vote YES.

Larry Soll and Nancy Maron


---------------------------------------
(06-19-16)
Vote For Levy


To the Editor:

In August we have an opportunity to renew the levy for our Emergency Medical Services on San Juan Island. This is of vital importance. Each of us benefits from the skills and energy of ourEMS professionals. Knowing that they are available and ready to serve us at all hours is our reassurance that island life can be lived comfortably and freely each day.

If you have questions, please visit www.VoteYesforEMS2016.com.

I will support this levy and vote YES. I hope you will too.

Sincerely,

Eileen Drath
San Juan Island


---------------------------------------
(06-09-16)
Vote Yes for SJI EMS


To the Editor:

A Town Hall meeting to talk and answer your questions about the EMS levy on the primary ballot will be held at the library on Wednesday, June 29, at 7 pm.

Speakers will be Bill Williams, Chair, and Michael Edwards, both Public Hospital District commissioners, EMS Chief Jerry Martin, and Dr. Loren Johnson and Rebecca K. Smith from the levy committee.

The current levy that funds EMS expires at the end of the year and a 60 percent Yes vote is required to pass the new levy and continue EMS operations.

(This event is sponsored by the Vote Yes for SJI EMS 2016 Levy Committee, not by the library.)

Louise Dustrude
Friday Harbor


---------------------------------------
(06-16-16)
Vote Yes for SJI EMS


To the Editor:

In August 2016, voters will be asked to vote on a replacement levy for San Juan Island Emergency Medical Services (SJIEMS). This measure supports SJIEMS - NOT hospital services at Peace Island Medical Center. The current levy expires on December 31, 2016, after which there will be no more funding for SJIEMS, unless voters approve a levy to continue funding this agency.

SJIEMS provides emergency care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Core services include Advanced Life Support (ALS) by paramedics, Basic Life Support (BLS) by community Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and ongoing community education programs that are supported by grants.

The proposed levy of 50 cents per $1000 assessed property value ($100 per year for a $200,000 property) would sustain these key services and begin to fund replacement of aging ambulances and equipment.

Comparing the proposed 50 cent levy to other agencies, taxpayers are currently assessed 49 cents for the San Juan Library, 45 cents for San Juan Island Parks & Recreation and 59 cents for Fire District 3 (a totally separate entity from EMS).

The 35 cent EMS levy has been in effect since 2010 and was adequate at that time, but now covers only about 70 percent of the EMS budget. The balance comes from insurance reimbursements such as Medicare and Medicaid. However, declining reimbursement levels, rising costs for medications, supplies and equipment, and lost revenue from an expired contract with Island Air, Inc. have made the budget unsustainable.

The new EMS chief Jerry Martin has been working closely with a citizen review committee and the commissioners to address budgetary concerns. Despite a sizable reduction in personnel, salaries and benefits, monetary reserves will be exhausted at the end of 2016. Without this replacement levy, core lifesaving services will be reduced or eliminated.


Islanders of all ages are subject to falls, sudden illnesses or accidents that require emergency medical services. In 2015, more than 80 percent of EMS calls were from district residents. Of those, more than 70 percent required Advanced Life Support- procedures that can be administered only by paramedics. In a life-threatening emergency, EMS is crucial for survival.

San Juan Island’s EMS team of rigorously trained and experienced paramedics and community EMTs has consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally for cardiac arrest survival rates. The levy would maintain this exemplary level of care as well as retain financial and operational stability.

Rebecca K. Smith
San Juan Island



We in San Juan County have become accustomed to expect excellent emergency services. We are very fortunate to have a fine crew of highly trained EMT's and paramedics. I for one appreciated knowing that when I called 911 in November last year I would have qualified care at my door in less than 15 minutes. Our high level of emergency services is at risk if the levy isn't passed to meet rising costs.
A yes vote on Proposition 1 will ensure that no lifesaving services will be eliminated.
SJIEMS saves lives!!

(This measure supports San Juan Island Emergency Medical Services (SJIEMS), not hospital services at Peace Island Medical Center.)

Liza Michaelson
San Juan Island

---------------------------------------
(06-16-16)
Vote Yes for Vote yes for EMS


To the Editor:


San Juan Island EMS is based on stories--ours. Because of their professional code of confidentiality, our EMS personnel do not share our stories. They respect them. They also save our lives. Whether we know it or not, we all know someone whose life has been saved by SJI EMS. And we also know someone whose physical and emotional well-being has been served by SJI EMS. A friend of mine recently shared a story of a middle-of-the-night crisis that was averted by several hours of very kind and very professional care by an EMS medic. Every day they respond to medical needs large and small. They serve our island with great professional skill and responsiveness as well as with personal care and discretion. They serve our critical needs as well as our less critical needs. They serve our life stories. Passing the upcoming EMS levy is all about supporting our friends, our neighbors, and ourselves. Vote yes for EMS.

Janet Thomas
San Juan Island





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