Budget plan calls for more firefighter-paramedics

Spending package includes hiring two more full-time GFD members; options for adding police officer being explored
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Village of Grafton’s proposed 2019 budget calls for two additional full-time firefighter-paramedics to be hired by next year.

The Village Board on Monday held a public hearing on the spending plan before the board makes its final decision in two weeks. No members of the public spoke during the hearing.

Two additional members hired by next year would bring the fire department to three full-time firefighters. Three members would provide around-the-clock coverage of at least one person. Volunteers staff the majority of the department.

Fire Chief Bill Rice said the additional firefighters will be hired at staggered dates in order to monitor revenue trends.   

The first new hire was added to the budget without any change to the village’s tax levy by using funds previously transferred from the department budget to support dispatch services. Grafton’s dispatch will be transferred to Ozaukee County by the end of this year.

The second firefighter could be hired if Rice can fund the position without requiring more money.

For most of the departments, staffing levels will remain status quo due to budget restraints. An additional employee will be added to the utility department after it reallocated $75,000 by canceling an outsourced valve-exercising contract.

Police department staff requests are under consideration. Police Chief Charles Wenten is seeking one additional patrol officer and a part-time police support specialist.

Wenten said the additional officer is needed because the growing community and crime statistics are similar to the larger City of Mequon.

Village Administrator Jesse Thyes said the cost of an extra officer is $93,114 and “is not feasible without a direct impact to the services rendered by other village departments and their staffing levels.”

Wenten is also seeking to reallocate department funds to pay for a part-time support specialist, which costs $22,111, and $21,000 in overtime for five other specialists. The proposed budget currently doesn’t have room to cover those costs.

Village President Jim Brunnquell advised Thyes to seek a solution to reconcile the costs.

Also discussed during the public hearing was a 1-cent tax rate decrease in the property tax rate in 2019, lowering it to $7.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That means the owner of a house assessed at $250,000 would pay $2.50 less next year.

The village tax levy totals $7.6 million. That amount includes adding $133,996 for new construction within the village.

Also funded will be 1.15 miles of road projects with utilities.

The final adoption of the village’s tax levy and budget for 2019 is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 19, during the Village Board meeting at 6 p.m.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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