Last week, the Klickitat County Auditor's Office began the process of putting an official election ballot in the mailboxes of registered voters throughout the western half of Klickitat County.
The ballots are for the upcoming Emergency Medical Services levy sponsored by Klickitat County's Public Hospital District No. 2, which is served by Skyline Hospital.
Since this is a "vote by mail" election, voters can vote and return the ballots at any time up until the deadline of May 15, the day of the election. Ballots postmarked by May 15 will be accepted as valid.
This is a very important election, and it represents a second chance for voters in the hospital district. Although more than 58 percent of the district's voters gave thumbs up to a slightly different version of the EMS levy back in November, it failed due to the state's obnoxious requirement that measures related to taxation receive a "supermajority" of at least 60 percent to gain passage.
It is hard to imagine what could be more important than emergency medical care. Any of us, at any time, could suffer some type of accident or medical problem that requires immediate medical attention. And who among us would willingly agree to wait an extra 10 minutes or so to allow time for emergency personnel to be called in from their homes? Who would want to accept a long delay in getting a medical team on the scene, with a potentially life-threatening situation unfolding? Would anyone knowingly say OK to such a scenario?
In effect, however, that is what is on the line in this election. If the measure fails again, emergency services at Skyline will see serious changes. It is expected that no longer would the hospital be able to pay emergency staff to be on duty at the hospital, where they are ready to jump into an ambulance and race to the emergency. No, they would instead be on call at home or elsewhere, and have to rush to the hospital from there. Obviously, that adds long minutes to response time, and minutes can make the difference between life and death in some cases.
Indeed, failure of this levy to pass this time around could be the beginning of an exodus of highly-trained and well-seasoned medical personnel from Skyline. In a worst-case situation, failure of the levy could actually be a domino falling that could eventually lead to the closure of Skyline itself. That would be an economic and "quality of life" disaster for the entire community.
Remember, this measure, if approved, would take in a mere 49 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, beginning in 2002. That is such a tiny price when considered in the larger picture of what is at stake.
Voting against this measure is like playing "Russian roulette" with your own future, and that of your family.
Please vote Yes. Get those ballots in the mail before May 15, so Skyline can be sure to get beyond the 60 percent threshold.
So much is on the line.