Firefighter and EMS Fund assists with FL local Fire Referendum
Just thirteen short days before a local fire referendum was to be voted on in Collier County, Florida, Firefighter and EMS Fund organization jumped into action to spread the word that “yes” was needed for the referendum. The North Collier fire budget was last set in the early 2000s. Since then, the fire district has grown over 60%.
After reaching out to Chris Spencer, retired firefighter and president of the North Collier Firefighters Association, deploying an automated call to inform as many households as possible to vote “yes” for the referendum was the best strategy. Over 8,000 households were contacted with the automated system within those thirteen days.
On August 28th, the referendum failed and the planning for the next referendum began. Educating the public for months in advance rather than two weeks is ideal for a successful referendum. It takes time for people to warm-up to tax increase proposals and to ponder on how they will benefit from it. This also provides the opportunity to combat misinformation. Social media especially helps spread rumors that the tax increase is much higher than in reality.
The key is to not sell the referendum to people, but to bring real life stories that people can relate to and empathize with as they are likely to come around much more quickly. Spencer spoke with Firefighter and EMS Fund after the local fire referendum failed and complimented them for the work they accomplished in such a short amount of time.
“You left no stone unturned and took it upon yourselves to help us,” said Spencer. “We enjoyed looking at the data elements you provided us and enabled us to do something we would normally not be able to do (automated calling.)” Fire fee proposals have become popular in Florida, but often don’t get enough votes when they go to referendum.
“Some things are doomed to fail, but not for lack of trying,” said Spencer. “You did things in a real short window of time and we are immensely grateful for your help and what you came in to do.”