Public Safety Referendum
Public Safety Referendum - Vote November 3rd
For 135 years, the Elkhorn Area Fire Department has faithfully responded to calls for emergency services in the Elkhorn community including the City of Elkhorn, Town of Geneva, Town of LaFayette, and Town of Sugar Creek. Changing times have forced the department to make changes in how they meet daily requests for Emergency Services.
On the ballot for the November 3, 2020 general election voters will be asked to allow the City and Towns to exceed levy limits to provide additional funding for the Fire Department. That question on the City ballot (actual dollar amounts and percentages will be different for each Town) will be:
“Under State law, the increase in the levy of the City of Elkhorn for the tax to be imposed for the next fiscal year, 2021, is limited to 2.51%, which results in a levy of $5,758,109. Shall the City of Elkhorn be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year, 2021, for the purpose of enhanced Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) by a total of 28.22%, which results in a levy of $7,384,011, and on an ongoing basis, include the increase of $1,625,902 for each fiscal year going forward?” YES _________ NO_________
The question will also be asked of voters in the Towns of Geneva, LaFayette, and Sugar Creek, either by referendum or resolution. That additional funding will allow the Fire Department to continue to provide services to the communities they serve.
The total anticipated expense to provide these necessary essential services is $2,475,902, an increase of $1,625,902 from the current budgeted amount of $850,000. In addition to the annually budgeted amount, each municipality will be asked to assume a portion of that funding increase.
Levy Impact on Tax Bill
City of Elkhorn - If the $1,625,902 is paid entirely by the City, the tax bill impact would be $182.62 per year ($15.21 per month) on a property assessed at $100,000. If all three Towns continue their contracts with the City to provide Fire/EMS services, the tax impact in the City would be reduced to $106.83 per year ($8.90 per month) on a property assessed at $100,000.
Town of Geneva - The town's share of the additional funding is $260,144. The tax bill impact will be $28.90 per year ($2.41 per month) on a property assessed at $100,000.
Town of Lafayette - Voters in the Town will not see the question on their ballot. The question will be asked of voters at the Town's annual meeting in the form of a resolution. The town's share of the additional funding is $197,733. The town will be asking for additional funds in the resolution for other non-Fire/EMS needs. The tax bill impact for the total amount requested will be $99.17 per year ($8.26 per month) on a property assessed at $100,000.
Town of Sugar Creek - The town's share of the additional funding is $61,000.00. The tax bill impact will be $16.64 per year ($1.38 per month) on a property assessed at $100,000.
The changes that have caused the need for this additional funding are not unique to the Elkhorn community and are being faced by communities throughout Wisconsin and our country.
The issues facing Elkhorn Area Fire Department include:
- Increase in call volume and requests for emergency services has increased 82% since 2010.
- Declining applicants for Paid on Call (POC) positions resulting in decrease in POC staff to cover calls. POC staff has decreased by 50% since 2010.
- Declining availability of current POC staff due to other job(s)/family commitments, etc.
- Eleven full-time (Paid on Premise (POP)) staff are currently "leased" from a private vendor.
- Increased reliance on mutual aid from neighboring departments to cover certain calls.
- Lack of legal authority by Wisconsin law to increase funding without a referendum.
Additional sustainable funding will allow the department to:
- Increase staffing levels necessary to meet the current and anticipated increase in calls
- Provide Paramedic level EMS care 24/7/365.
- Employ all staff, both Paid on Call and Paid on Premise.
The four municipalities are co-hosting a series of informational sessions. All interested individuals are encouraged to attend. To allow for the greatest attendance while allowing for physical distancing, all sessions will occur at the James A. Wehner Auditorium at Elkhorn Area High School. Scheduled sessions are:
- Tuesday October 13 6:30pm
- Saturday October 24 9:00am
- Wednesday October 28 6:30pm
Physical distancing AND face masks will be required at each session.
If you have specific questions you would like answered during one of those sessions, please e-mail your question(s) to Chief Rod Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not able to attend one of the informational sessions and would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact one of your local elected officials.