The Holmen Area Fire District’s 2018 budget has some Town of Holland board members pressing for changes on how they contribute to its funding in the future.

At last week’s board meeting, Holland Town Clerk Marilyn Pedretti said now would be the time to discuss the matter, rather than waiting until the HAFD presents the 2019 budget next November.

“This is the time to start that process,” Pedretti said.

The HAFD provides fire coverage for the village of Holmen and the towns of Onalaska and Holland. Funding for operation of the district follows an equalized value formula of property.

In 2018, the town of Holland is projected to pay $149,960 toward operating costs, or, about 25 percent of the total operating costs of $609,000. Meanwhile, the town of Onalaska is budgeted to pay $206,871, or, 34 percent, and the village of Holmen would pay $252,169 – about 41 percent.

All three municipalities also will pay $30,000 toward the capital expenditure fund, a $5,000 increase from the previous year.

Also, payments of between $14,000 and $24,000 that the municipalities receive via the state’s “two percent fire dues payment program” go to the district, all helping to fund the district’s $757,000 overall budget.

Town of Holland Board members in October approved a preliminary 2018 HAFD operating budget, but some expressed concern with a projected 12.3 percent increase toward that budget.

Robert Stupi, who was the lone “nay” on a 4-1 vote to approve the preliminary budget, pointed out at the time that there was nothing else on their budget going up that much. The increase means an additional $15,900 will go toward the fire district for operating costs.

Board member Jerome Pedretti, who also serves on the HAFD board, said on Wednesday the board does plan to look at new ways to fund the district during its January meeting.

Board members have remarked that the number of fire calls received by the fire department is lopsided, and the fire district should take that into consideration.

In October, for example, the department received 78 calls, with 59 of them coming from Holmen, 13 coming from the town of Onalaska, and six coming from the town of Holland. In September, the department took 48 calls from Holmen, nine from Onalaska and six from Holland.

Board member Kathy Warzynski suggested that when the fire district decides how much each municipality should pay, they should take into consideration not only equalized value rates, but also where the fire calls are coming from.

She pointed out that more than 50 percent of them have been coming from Holmen.

“The village should be taking on more than 50 percent of the operating costs,” Warzynski said. “They should be paying the lion’s share of that budget.”

2018 fee schedule

The board also voted in favor of the 2018 fee schedule, which reflects a few changes and increases.

Dog license fees have been increased to $12 for dogs that are spayed or neutered, and $23 for dogs that are not.

The town will now also charge $50 for certified survey maps, $200 for driveway variances, $25 for driveway permits and $400 for comprehensive plan amendments.

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Coulee Courier and Houston County News editor

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