Town drops Newburg for fire service, citing overpayments

By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press staff

The Town of Saukville will contract with the Village of Saukville next year for fire and emergency services starting in 2022, straying from a long-standing agreement with the Newburg Fire Department. 

Under the one-year agreement, the town will pay the village $170,000 for fire and emergency medical services, about $16,000 less than the $186,000 it paid Newburg this year. 

The town began negotiations on its fire contract this fall after officials found that the town was likely overpaying on its portion of the Newburg fire contract, and may have been doing so for years. 

An equalized formula for determining how much municipalities pay the Newburg Fire Department for services hasn’t existed for years. 

Instead of costs based on call volumes, populations or property value, the contracts have annually relied on percentages established years ago that have gone unchanged despite some municipalities growing faster than others and requiring more services. 

Using figures from a study of county fire services completed this year by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, Chairman Kevin Kimmes calculated that the town may have overpaid about $62,000 on the 2021 contract. 

“Based on these values there is a long-standing discussion that the Town of Saukville feels it is paying a disproportionate amount,” Kimmes said. 

After discussing the inequality with Newburg Fire Department leaders, the department offered to renew the town’s contract in 2022 for $159,311 for the same level of service. 

During a Nov. 16 Town Board meeting where the Village of Saukville contract was adopted, board member Mike Denzien said while the Newburg proposal was lower than the Village of Saukville’s, town leaders believe they will receive better value under the village contract. 

“The village’s offer saves less but gets more,” he said. 

A term of the village contract states that the village will staff two full-time paramedic firefighters that will be available to the town, and will also staff a part-time paramedic or EMT on some shifts to improve day-time responses. 

Kimmes said with the town currently only having access to paramedics from West Bend or Thiensville, having paramedics in Saukville will greatly improve services. 

“As we sit here today, the village and town of Saukville have zero days of paramedic coverage unless we are getting it from another entity,” he said. 

Two town residents expressed concerns during the meeting that fire and EMS coverage on the western part of the town, which is closer to Newburg, will diminish if emergency personnel are being dispatched from the village. 

“Minutes and seconds make a big difference,” Mike Faulkner said. 

The sentiment was also expressed by Newburg Fire Chief Mark Chesak, who said the Saukville Fire Department is struggling to dispatch EMS crews for the area it covers already. 

“In my eyes, it’s taking public safety and throwing it out the window,” he said. 

Kimmes said while Saukville’s Fire Department response area will be extended about two miles to the west, in the event of a major fire, the closest fire department will still respond and response times should not be impacted. He added that with paramedics available in the village of Saukville, EMS response times should be better than if paramedics were responding from Thiensville or West Bend. 

Under the contract, the village will then make sub-payments for assistance in covering areas of the town to the Fredonia Fire Department, which will receive $24,000, the Waubeka Fire Department, which will receive $12,000 and the Newburg 

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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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