Town of Holland asks voters to fund fire department through referendum

TOWN OF HOLLAND, Wis. (WKBT) — Nationwide, communities are feeling the impacts of the firefighter and EMS shortage. Town of Holland is turning to its residents for help.

In November, Town of Holland residents have the choice to vote for a recurring $582,000 referendum. That’s a $135 increase per $100,000 in property value for the first year.

“50% of what we tax our town residents will go to for fire protection,” Town of Holland town chair, Bob Stupi said.

The goal of the referendum is to fund additional firefighters to staff the station at all times.

“If someone could offer 24 hour coverage with firefighter and EMS with a quicker response time, I think that’s a good value,” Stupi said.

Currently, there are six full time firefighters that cover the Holmen area. If the referendum is not passed, that number may decrease to four.

“If we don’t pass the referendum, what we’re looking at realistically is cutting staff,” he said. 

According to Stupi, in the past five years, the need for firefighters and EMS has increased by 51%.

“We’ve reached a crisis point where we don’t have enough staff for a community of our size and area that we serve relative to other communities in the state,” Stupi said.

Currently, the La Crosse Fire Department provides assistance to the Holmen Area Fire Department. Stupi says the Holmen Area Fire Department is appreciative of the help, but says it won’t last forever.

“Frankly, we never sent aid to them because we don’t have staff. They’re always coming to our aid,” Stupi said.

If the referendum is passed, it would take effect in January of 2023. Stupi says the department would start hiring additional firefighters as soon as possible.

Town of Holland will host public information meetings on Thursday, Oct. 13th and Tuesday, Oct. 25th at 6:30 p.m. The referendum will be on the ballot on November 8th.