Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake council ponders EMS vote date

Resolution to put levy on ballot needs further refinement


City of Medical Lake

Medical Lake's City's utility billing clerk, Felicia Irish, shows off awards won recently for efforts with the county's commute trip reduction program.

The residents of Medical Lake should know they will be asked to pass an extension to the existing Emergency Medical Services levy. And that the request will replace a current levy which was approved in 2012 and expires at the end of 2018 and would fund the EMS services through 2024.

The question remains, however, following the Feb. 20 City Council meeting, when that vote will happen.

An item on the agenda to have the first reading of Resolution 512, which would have established a date for the vote, was tabled to a future meeting so council could confirm some of the details related to the vote.

Original discussion, which took place Feb. 6, centered around whether to set an August or November date for the measure. But when it came time to make that decision, council members had reservations setting a firm date.

While the previous levy passed by 73 percent in 2012, concerns floated around the "what if" scenario should it not pass. Would there be time to get it on the November general election? As it turns out, likely not, because City Administrator Doug Ross apparently found the last day to make that decision was the same date of the August primary.

Councilwoman Jessica Roberts suggested moving ahead and putting the measure on the November ballot in advance. If the levy pass it could be stricken in time.

Ross said the resolution should be returned to committee for further study, a decision echoed by city attorney Cindy McMullen. In the end that is what happened. No specific date was set for its first reading.

Approval is by a simple majority and there are no minimum voter turnouts required for validation, hence the thought to possibly run the measure in August. If passed, the levy would cost property owners 50 cents per $1,000 of property assessed value to keep fire and EMS service at its current levels.

Any plans to increase funding and add fulltime employees, or new facilities, would be a separate request and are not part of the upcoming levy.

Another agenda item that will be addressed at a later meeting is the matter of members being able to participate remotely, through technology such as SKYPE on a tablet or laptop computer.

The issue came up last meeting when new council member John Merrick said there may be times when a new job could take him away from meeting night, but that he wanted to try to be present, even it is only his image on a computer screen.

Ross said he had many policies from other municipalities to study and would provide council that input in order to develop something official.

Ross also spoke to some expected traffic congestion this summer when the Washington State Department of Transportation installs a roundabout at the intersection of Craig Road and State Route 902. Other delays could come from planned work by Avista Utilities as they upgrade natural gas lines.

Terri Cooper of Re*Imagine Medical Lake spoke in the public forum about both the recently completed Winterfest, as well as Founders Day 2018, June 15-16. While planning is in the initial stages, Cooper said Re*Imagine, which coordinates the celebration, has been offered at no charge a fireworks show. There will be plenty of discussion with city officials on that topic in the coming weeks and months.

The city's utility billing clerk, Felicia Irish, also informed council she had been honored for efforts with the Commute Trip Reduction program with the Silver CTP Champion Award. The honor spotlights communities who encourage cities to consider alternatives such carpooling or biking to work.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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