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Public Health - Seattle & King County

2008-2013 Medic One/EMS levy planning process recap

On July 3, 2007, the King County Council passed Ordinance 15861 placing a 6-year, 30-cent Medic One/EMS levy before the voters in November, 2007. The 30-cent levy rate supports the programmatic and fiscal proposals contained in the Council-adopted Medic One/EMS 2008-2013 Strategic Plan, and is the rate that was unanimously approved by the Medic One/EMS regional Stakeholders in October of 2006. The levy is estimated to generate approximately $630 million over the next six years, and will cost about $120 per year for the average $400,000 home.

Adopted along with the 30-cent levy rate was Ordinance 15862 creating financial policies to augment the oversight and accountability of the EMS fund. This would be done via increased financial review by the King County Council and annual audits by the King County Council auditor. Also specified in the ordinance is the creation of a formal Medic One/EMS Advisory Task Force to guide the planning of the next Medic One/EMS levy.

Getting the approval to place this Medic One/EMS 30-cent levy on the November 2007 ballot has been a lengthy process, one that has taken nearly two years from start to finish. It brought together Stakeholders representing the full range of Medic One/EMS providers to review the issues and options facing our system, and used their experience and expertise to develop a strategic plan to ensure Medic One/EMS remains a strong, medically-based system. By creating a three-tired approach, we obtained regional participation and input, a thorough discussion of issues, and most importantly, consensus among stakeholders who make up the Medic One/EMS System. Stakeholders made improvements and additions at every stage of this process that enhance the program quality of regional EMS proposals and put in place useful financial and policy oversight measures that will help ensure continued success of the regional system.

Phase I - The Technical Advisory Stage

A Technical Advisory Group convened in October, 2005 to review the current Medic One/EMS system as a whole, set clear funding priorities and develop draft recommendations to ensure our nationally-recognized system continues to thrive throughout the region.  For eight months, this stakeholder group, consisting of emergency physicians, paramedic providers, fire departments, dispatch centers, hospitals, private ambulance companies, labor and finance officers, evaluated the financial and policy needs of Medic One/EMS , and drew up draft proposals that addressed the needs of the program's three service areas. 

In June, 2006, the group completed its task and forwarded its preferred draft recommendations to the Elected Officials Committee for their review and approval, thus beginning Phase II.

Phase II -The Elected Official Stakeholder Stage

In July, 2006, the King County Executive brought together a group of Elected Officials to analyze and adopt the EMS program recommendations that became the regional 2008-2013 Medic One/EMS Strategic Plan for the 2008 levy period and beyond, and to determine the levy type, length, rate, and election date.  This group completed its work in a record four months proposing that a 6-year, 30-cent Medic One/EMS levy be sent to the voters at the 2007 General election.

This proposal proceeded to Phase III of the levy planning process, which was to gain the approval of elected bodies in King County.

Phase III - The Councils' Approval Stage

The state statute governing the Medic One/EMS levy requires that the levy proposal be adopted by the King County Council and those cities with population exceeding 50,000 before it can be placed on a county-wide ballot.  By June, 2007, the City Councils for those seven cities (Bellevue, Federal Way, Kent, Redmond, Renton, Seattle, and Shoreline) had adopted formal resolutions confirming their support of the 30-cent proposal, and the King County Council passed its ordinance on July 3, 2007. 

A number of changes to the Medic One/EMS 2008-2013 Strategic Plan occurred while the levy proposal was being considered by the King County Council.  In April 2007, members of the Regional Policy Committee added language proposing that a 6-year levy lid lift be considered as a possible funding mechanism for the Medic One system.  The original Financial Plan was revised to better represent the most recent econometric data, resulting in refined revenue and expenditure projections but still a Medic One/EMS levy rate of 30 cents. Finally, an ordinance creating financial policies to strengthen the oversight of the EMS fund was adopted along with the 30-cent levy rate proposal.

We recently updated the Medic One/EMS 2008-2013 Strategic Plan to reflect these changes.

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