Public Safety Referendum Approval

Pleasant Prairie Voters Approve Public Safety Referendum
Posted on 04/06/2022
Voters in the Village of Pleasant Prairie on April 5 approved a Public Safety Referendum that supports increasing the Village’s annual tax levy by $1.6 million, beginning in 2023, to hire and retain four additional police officers and 12 additional fire and rescue staff. The results are unofficial, pending the completion of the County Board of Canvass on April 8, 2022; however, the initial report from Kenosha County shows the referendum received support from about 52% of voters. Approval of the referendum by the majority of voters enables Pleasant Prairie to hire the necessary staff to maintain quality public safety services into the future.

“On behalf of the Pleasant Prairie Fire and Rescue Department, I would like to thank residents for supporting the public safety referendum,” said Craig Roepke, Chief of Fire and Rescue. “I am extremely grateful; the additional personnel will be an invaluable resource that improves response times and helps manage the Department’s increased call volumes.”

Over the last decade, the population of Pleasant Prairie has grown nearly 16%. In that same time, Fire & Rescue calls increased by 83%, with 40% of those calls overlapping. The growth increased service demands and outpaced staffing levels, causing Fire & Rescue to rely heavily on mutual aid from neighboring fire departments.

In addition, the Pleasant Prairie Police Department experienced low staffing-to-service ratios, with some shifts only having three officers on duty responsible for protecting the entire Village. Police Chief David Smetana stated, “I am appreciative that residents understood the public safety needs within the community and voted to pass the referendum. The approval will place four more officers on the street to enhance community safety across the three patrol shifts, providing proactive coverage to help protect the 33-square-mile area of the Village.”    

The additional public safety staffing is a topic the Village Board and Village Staff have evaluated over the past several years. In 2018, Chief Roepke presented an internal assessment of the Fire and Rescue Department, identifying the need for additional staffing. McGrath Consulting confirmed the need in 2019 while conducting a third-party review of the Department. In 2020, Village staff further reviewed public safety staffing and response policies to determine how best to meet the McGrath recommendations. 

In 2021, the Village Board hired Mueller Communications, a Milwaukee-based public affairs and communication firm that helped Village Staff communicate the public safety challenges and develop potential solutions in the form of a Public Safety Assessment. At the end of  2021, the Village conducted a Survey, and the results favored pursuing a referendum to support the additional public safety personnel. In 2022, the Village Board approved a resolution authorizing a referendum question, and Village Staff began educating the community on the Village’s public safety needs. 

Under the approved referendum, the estimated property tax impact is projected to increase by $3.50 per month or $42 per year for each $100,000 of assessed property value. Commercial and residential property owners will pay an equal share of the referendum as the Village draws from half residential and half commercial properties to support the levy. 

“The Village appreciates the community support and takes pride in maintaining a fiscally responsible municipality,” explained Nathan Thiel, Village Administrator. “The additional public safety personnel in the Fire and Rescue and Police Departments will ensure the necessary staff is available when residents, visitors, and businesses need quality public safety services.” 
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