Firefighters are fighting hard in local elections this year
With all the noise surrounding state and national elections this year, it’s easy to forget that the most impactful votes are at the local level of government. When it comes to public safety, local ballot measures and referendums are imperative to ensure that firefighters and first responders have the resources they need to serve their communities and stay safe on the job.
Firefighters and EMS Fund is hard at work this election season to highlight local referendums across the country that will directly impact the dedicated professionals of American fire departments.
“Pay parity” for the Houston fire department has become a heated local issue in the city. The firefighter’s union in Houston is arguing for “pay parity” which would grant pay raises comparable to those of police officers with similar rank and seniority. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is vehemently opposed to the measure, Proposition B, arguing that it would cost the city too much money. It will be up to the voters of Houston to decide whether to give their firefighters a pay raise.
In Greenfield, Wisconsin, both the fire chief and chief of police are seeking a $975,000 raise in public safety funding. They argue that Greenfield falls short in public safety staffing in relation to neighboring municipalities. The ballot measure calls for five new police officers and two additional fire department staff positions.
For the third consecutive time, the Pingree Grove & Countryside Fire District is asking voters near Elgin, Illinois for their approval to borrow $8.5 million dollars for two new fire stations. Opponents to the referendum are arguing for a $6.9 million dollar renovation to the fire station but it will be up to the voters to decide.
Central Kitsap, WA
Voters in Central Kitsap, Washington will be deciding whether to allow a property tax increase to help fund the local fire and rescue department. The “lid lift” measure would increase the average property tax of residents by $50. The fire department says that it will use the increased funds for two new ambulances and a fire engine. Voters in the area approved a similar measure in 2015 but it is unclear whether they are ready to approve another increase.
In Enid, Oklahoma, the City Commission is debating a proposal to increase funding by $354,000 for new equipment for their local fire department.
Round Lake, IL
Voters in Round Lake, Illinois will be voting on the first referendum concerning their fire department in 41 years. The ballot measure calls for a $4.5 million dollar general obligation bond that would be used to upgrade fire department equipment and facilities. The district is one of the largest in the areas, with a combined population of 53,000 residents. Calls for service have also increased in the past few years, which is why fire department officials in Round Lake are calling for increased funding that they say will modernize their department for the next 20 years.