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Arlington awaits results of EMS levy vote

ARLINGTON — On the final day to return ballots for the special election, supporters of the city of Arlington's proposed permanent emergency medical services levy are looking to the factors that could swing the vote in their favor.

"I've been encouraged by the amount of returns within the past week," said Barbara Tolbert, who's served as campaign manager for the EMS levy on the Nov. 2 and April 26 ballots. "The firefighters, their families and large numbers of other citizen volunteers have really shown impressive levels of commitment and dedication in getting the word out. I've seen people holding signs on street corners in the pouring rain for this levy. Regardless of tomorrow's outcome, I think we can be proud of the collective hard work that's been invested in this effort."

"I'm cautiously optimistic that the community will mandate a continuation of our paramedic service by voting yes on Proposition 1," Arlington Fire Chief Bruce Stedman said. "I believe this due to the feedback that our volunteers have received from the hundreds, if not thousands, of people whom we've talked to during the last few months regarding this issue."

The proposed permanent levy would replace the existing levy that's set to expire at the end of 2011. Tolbert noted that these levies, along with transportation fees, are the only sources of funding for EMS services, including ambulances and paramedics, in the area. She added that the Arlington Fire Department provides EMS not only for the city of Arlington itself, but also for the Arlington Heights, Oso, Silvana and Darrington fire districts. An estimated 80 percent of the Arlington Fire Department's more than 3,000 calls in 2009 were medically related.

The proposed EMS levy on the Nov. 2 ballot received 3,400 votes, or 59.29 percent of the vote, in favor of passing the levy, and 2,335 votes, or 40.71 percent of the vote, that were cast against the measure. This fell only 41 votes short of the required 60 percent super-majority that would have passed the levy. As of 9:59 a.m. on April 26, only an estimated 35 percent of Arlington voters had returned their ballots for the special election.

The Snohomish County Auditor's Office is located on the first floor of the administration building at 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett, and is accepting ballots until 8 p.m. A 24-hour ballot drop box is also receiving ballots until 8 p.m., on the Snohomish County Campus at the intersection of Rockefeller Avenue and Wall Street in Everett. Mailed-in ballots must be postmarked by April 26.

Call Snohomish County Elections at 425-388-3444 for more information.

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