South Prairie voters make EMS levy permanent

The measure received 44 “yes” votes, more than enough to pass.

Residents of the cozy community of South Prairie will continue to receive emergency medical care, thanks to a show of support during the recent special election.

The small town – with a handful of business ventures, 400-plus residents and a 109-year history – receives emergency services from East Pierce Fire and Rescue. To pay for those services, voters previously passed a six-year levy that levied a property tax throughout the community. That levy expired with the close of 2017.

Given the option of proposing another six-year extension of the levy, members of the Town Council chose instead to call for a permanent levy. The matter was placed on the April 24 ballot and, by a healthy margin, was endorsed by voters.

To pass, the ballot measure required a 60 percent show of support. Given the rather small block of legal voters, just 19 “yes” votes were required to validate the election. The outcome was quickly decided as the measure had received 34 affirmative votes and 71 percent support as of election night; by the time the vote was certified on May 4, the margin had expanded to 44-17, or slightly better than 72 percent support.

The ballot measure calls for a maximum tax rate of 50 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value, levied against everyone owning property within the city limits. That equates to $125 annually for the owner of property – land and structures – valued at $250,000.

The city collects the money to maintain an emergency medical care program, then pays East Pierce Fire and Rescue to provide the services.

With just one city employee, South Prairie contracts for the majority of its services. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department provides police protection, the city of Bonney Lake handles court functions and other individuals and companies take care of things like planning, building and legal services.

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