Local Election

Whatcom EMS levy lead widens to 20 votes, out of 106,000, in ballot count

5 facts about the EMS levy

Whatcom County Fire authorities are asking voters to approve a levy Nov. 8, for Whatcom County's Emergency Medical Services, or EMS.
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Whatcom County Fire authorities are asking voters to approve a levy Nov. 8, for Whatcom County's Emergency Medical Services, or EMS.

A Whatcom County levy for emergency medical services was passing by an ever-so-slightly wider margin – 20 votes out of more than 106,000 – in the latest ballot count released this week.

The six-year levy would raise property taxes by 29.5 cents per $1,000 of value, to fund a fifth ambulance staffed by paramedics and other benefits for the local advanced life support system.

To pass the measure needs 60 percent of the vote. As of Wednesday it had 60.02 percent, with a few hundred votes still in play. Many of the remaining ballots have signatures that need to be confirmed.

Early on the levy was failing by more than 170 ballots. Over the days that followed the gap shrank to single digits, and by last Friday it was passing by 14.

Now it’s passing by 20 votes out of 106,850 cast, according to the ballot count released Wednesday. Results aren’t final until Nov. 28.

Proponents say a fifth ambulance is overdue in light of the county’s recent population growth, and that reserves for the EMS system have dwindled to almost nothing. About $10 million in reserve funds would build up over the levy’s six-year duration, according to a report by an EMS work group.

Opponents say that is excessive. Also, those against the proposal contend that the local ambulance system is already good, and those in favor haven’t finished the research on exactly how to spend the money.

A recount could cost the losing side 25 cents per ballot, or more than $25,000.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

HOW THE MAPS WORK

In precincts shaded green, the EMS levy is passing. In precincts shaded red, the levy is failing. To see individual totals, click on each precinct. To zoom in, use the controls embedded in the left side of the map.

Whatcom County results

Bellingham results

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