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Putting it to the voters

Walworth may seek referendum approval for paid-on-premises

November 06, 2008
Walworth — The proposed paid-on-premises fire and rescue service may move forward if voters give it a stamp of approval.

The village of Walworth has held preliminary discussions to bring the paid-on-premises service to a referendum question in April 2009.

If voters approve the referendum, the village would be allowed to raise the state imposed levy limits to fund the new service.

"It's a creative way to come up with the funding to do this," Walworth Trustee LeRoy Nordmeyer said.

The villages of Walworth and Fontana have discussed creating a paid-on-premises service during daytime hours when response times are currently a concern. Volunteer firefighters and rescue workers are often unable to leave their jobs for emergency calls, and many of the volunteers work outside of the area.

The majority of emergency calls are made from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The current paid-on-premises proposal includes two full-time emergency responders in the station during peak hours. A third 50 hour-per-week position would be filled by multiple part-time employees who will receive no benefits.

During a presentation last month, Walworth Emergency Service Director Chris Severt estimated the annual cost of the service would be $167,000 for both villages.

Nordmeyer said a referendum question is one of several ways the village can choose to fund a paid-on-premises service.

"The paid-on-premises will happen its just how we choose to pay for it," Nordmeyer said. "There is a need for the service."

Nordmeyer said bringing the issue to referendum was discussed during a village Finance Committee meeting, but the issue hasn't been discussed at the Village Board level.

He expects it will be discussed at the board level during the Nov. 10 meeting.

To have a referendum question on the April ballot the village would need to have the question finalized by February, according to County Clerk Kim Bushey.

Nordmeyer said he thinks people in the community would support a referendum to creat a paid-on-premises service because they would see the need .

"We would have to be forthright with the information," he said. "It's not for the purpose of raising taxes."

Committee met Oct. 30

The Ad Hoc Joint Services Commitee meet on Oct. 30 to continue discussing sharing emergency services.

Walworth Trustee Matt Long discussed the Village Board's decision to have the details of the merger finalized by Oct. 1, 2009, and to have it take place by Jan. 1, 2010.

Long and Nordmeyer said the decision was made to show Fontana that Walworth was serious about the consolidation effort.

"I do think (Fontana) is as committed to it as Walworth is," Fontana Trustee Micki O'Connell said.

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