Bainbridge voters say yes to permanent EMS, school improvements

Bainbridge voters were giving a big thumbs up to two propositions that would raise property taxes to pay for permanent EMS services, and school improvements on the Bainbridge High campus that include a new 100 Building and turning the high school commons into an auditorium with seating for 350 to 400 people.

Proposition 1 for the Bainbridge Island School District was passing in the first vote count on Election Night.

The initial vote count for the Capital Projects Levy was 60.9 percent in favor, and 39.1 against.

Another proposition before Bainbridge voters, a proposal to make permanent the levy for EMS, was passing by a landslide margin, 73.1 percent “yes” to 25.9 percent “no.”

The next vote tally for the Feb. 12 Special Election will be announced Wednesday.

Prop. 1 for schools is a six-year property tax increase that officials say will help bridge a budget gap for new school and improvement projects that were part of a bond measure in 2016.

Bainbridge voters approved an $81.2 million bond measure three years ago that paid for a new Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary and the replacement of the 100 Building at Bainbridge High.

Rising costs due to the construction boom in the Seattle region, however, added with unexpected permitting changes and reduced state funding, left a $10.2 million shortfall for the projects.

The $15 million levy is expected to bridge the budget shortfall plus provide funding for district-wide security upgrades and essential renovations through 2025, including plumbing, roof and HVAC repairs.

For property owners, the school district’s Prop. 1 levy will add an additional 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to tax bills starting in 2020.

That’s approximately $198 per year for six years, officials note, for the average home on Bainbridge (assessed at $660,520).

The Bainbridge Island Fire Department’s Prop. 1 was also passing in early returns.

The BIFD Prop. 1 is a permanent property tax levy to pay for emergency medical services (EMS).

Officials said the revenue raised by the levy will be used exclusively for EMS services, which comprise 70 percent of all calls for service for the department.

If approved by voters, the EMS levy will cost the owner of a $500,000 property an additional $40 in property taxes in 2020, officials said.

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