The City of Jefferson has identified a need to add additional, full-time personnel to its Fire and EMS Department.
Voters will be asked on April 4, 2023 whether they approve an increase to the City’s annual property tax levy to cover the cost for six full-time EMS fire-trained personnel and provide a competitive wage for volunteer Fire Department staff.
The Department’s current volunteer-reliant staffing model is insufficient to meet the community’s current and projected future service needs. In order to meet these needs and provide the level of service residents have come to expect, the City must hire six full-time emergency medical service (EMS) fire-trained personnel and also increase wages for volunteer staff to help aid in staff recruitment and retention.
However, the City lacks funding to hire additional staff or to increase pay for paid-on-call volunteers. Because of state-imposed levy limits, the City must ask for approval from taxpayers through a referendum to increase the tax levy to fund additional staffing and wage increases.
The Department has done all it can to meet the growing needs of the community by working smarter, creating efficiencies and making the most of our current budget. While the Department regularly pursues external grant opportunities, these are unable to provide the consistent support necessary and therefore not a viable long-term funding option. ARPA funding was also considered to address these needs, but had already been designated for other uses and is not an option.
Critical Need for EMS Staff
The Jefferson EMS Department is staffed by both full-time and paid-on-premise staff. In 2022, EMS services were requested 1,347 times, a 38% increase since 2013.
The Department continues to lose staff to full-time salaried jobs or jobs with more competitive wages at nearby hospitals, clinics and even other fire and EMS departments in the region.
An approved referendum would enable the Department to provide a competitive wage for six additional full-time EMS personnel with fire cross-training, and attract and retain high quality paid-on-call EMTs.
Critical Need for Fire Staff
The Jefferson Fire Department currently relies entirely on volunteer staff. Over the past 10 years, the number of calls for service have increased by 102% while the number of volunteers has decreased by 28%.
In addition, only 12% of Fire Department volunteers are located in the City of Jefferson and able to respond to emergencies during the workday. Many work outside of the city and would have to commute back to answer a call – increasing the response time for those in an emergency.
The Jefferson Fire and EMS Department needs additional full-time EMS personnel with fire cross-training experience who can regularly respond to both fire and EMS calls in a timely way, in addition to volunteers. These additional resources would enable the department to better meet current and future call volume demands.
Resources that provide additional details about the referendum are below:
Attend an Informational – Fire Station/EMS Facility – 351 E. Racine St.
Meeting #1 – Thursday, February 23rd – 6:00 p.m.
Meeting #2 – Thursday, March 9th – 12:00 p.m.
Meeting #3 – Thursday, March 23rd – 6:00 p.m.
Election Day: Tuesday, April 4
Jefferson voters can cast their vote in one of three ways: through absentee mail-in ballots, early in-person voting at the City Clerk’s office, or in-person voting on election day, April 4, 2023.
- You may request an absentee ballot be mailed to you until 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, 2023.
- In-person early voting will take place Tuesday, March 21 through Friday, March 31, 2023 and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- On April 4, all polling places will open at 7:00 a.m. and will close at 8:00 p.m. Wisconsin voters are required to show an acceptable photo ID in order to vote.
Additional voting information, including about polling places and requesting an absentee ballot, can be found on myvote.wi.gov.
Email the City of Jefferson at Referendum@jeffersonwis.com with any questions or feedback.