In March 2022, WLFD completed an options assessment detailing the staffing challenges faced by the District, the identified solutions, and potential options for municipalities served by the District to provide necessary additional funding. The options assessment cited increased calls for services, a growing population and decreased availability of local paid-on-call firefighters as putting a significant strain on WLFD, resulting in increased response times that put residents and properties at risk.
Because of state-imposed levy limits, municipalities within the District must receive approval from voters through a referendum to authorize an increase to the tax levy to fund the services.
Why do we need a referendum now?
- With calls for service up 74% and local paid-on-call staffing down 69%, WLFD is challenged with increased response times that put residents, and their property, at risk.
- Every year, WLFD loses an average of 40 part-time staff members, largely because they obtain full-time employment or take higher-paying jobs including with other fire departments. The majority WLFD’s part-time staff are paid just $14 an hour.
- Because of state-imposed levy limits, municipalities within the District must receive approval from voters through a referendum to authorize an increase to the tax levy to fund the services.
If a majority vote “yes”
If community referendums are approved by a majority of voters, WLFD will improve staffing and increase wages to bring fire and EMS capabilities in line with industry standards and best practices, resulting in:
Additional staff, including:
- 33 additional in-station firefighter / paramedics (11 per shift across the WLFD footprint), eliminating the need to wait for paid- on-call staff to arrive before staff respond to a call;
- 3 additional battalion chiefs (one per shift);
- 15 paid internship positions (positions are not new, but new Department of Labor regulations require that intern positions be paid);
- 1 full-time administrative assistant; and
- 1 additional fire inspector.
Increased wages to maintain current staff and avoid staff departures to other departments, be competitive in the market and enhance staff recruitment.
The ask of voters
On August 9, 2022, voters will be asked if they approve increased property taxes to fund WLFD. Increasing staffing levels will require an additional $6.3 million each year shared across WLFD communities that receive fire services, based on a funding formula that accounts for a community’s calls for service, population, the value of their facilities, and land value.