Milton-Freewater voters approve ambulance levy

A measure to pay for emergency services passed in a landslide Tuesday.

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MILTON-FREEWATER -- An overwhelming majority of voters said yes to more taxes to pay for ambulance services.

The final results from the Umatilla Elections Division had 87 percent of voters from the newly formed Milton-Freewater Ambulance District approving a property tax of 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Though not yet certified, the results were 1,663 in favor of the levy, 247 against.

Properties affected by the levy are those that fall in the Milton-Freewater School District, which shares the same boundaries as the ambulance district.

The money will be used for ambulance services and fall under the jurisdiction of the newly elected Board of Directors, the members of which also were chosen in Tuesday's election.

The district was formed earlier this year to allow local residents the opportunity to vote on a levy to support local ambulance services, which had been threatened with termination.

The current ambulance provider twice this year told county officials he could no longer afford to serve the Milton-Freewater area. The provider and county officials worked out two contract extensions that included $1,000 monthly payments.

The levy will raise close to $100,000 a year, which is roughly the amount the current provider said he needs to continue services.

The provider's contract is due to run out in January. Funds from the levy will not be available until November 2012, which means there is still some risk that ambulance service will discontinue after January.

The newly formed Board of Directors will have the power to issue bonds, and county officials said the bonds might be used to keep the ambulance service going until the first levy funds are collected.

A number of the newly elected directors had also suggested a new call for bids would have to be made once the levy was passed, which might lead to another provider servicing the area.

Below are the results for the Ambulance District Board of Directors race; the five candidates to receive the most votes will win a position on the board:

  • Orrin Lyon, 1,025

  • Gina M. Miller, 937

  • William F. "Bill" Burwell, 890

  • Jack D. King, 792

  • William "Bill" Howard III, 729

  • Robert L. White, 680

  • Mark A. Gomes, 631

  • R. Shane Garner, 625

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