Starting Jan. 1, 2016, the residents of Wind Point and North Bay will no longer use the Racine Fire Department for their fire and EMS service, instead the Caledonia Fire Department will take on the job.
The village boards for Wind Point and North Bay gave the final go ahead over the past week for Caledonia to take over the work. Wind Point has a population of 1,723 and North Bay has 250 residents. To have Caledonia provide fire and EMS services, Wind Point will pay Caledonia $255,511 each year for five years, and North Bay will pay $32,091 for five years.
Wind Point village administrator Michael Hawes said the village put out a request for proposals for the work in August. The Racine Fire Department told the village their contract would be $304,000 in 2016 and would increase 10 percent each year for five years.
“We were surprised… but they gave the reasoning that they were trying to make sure that the costs we were paying were the same rates their residents were paying,” Hawes said.
Still, the cost increase was a big pill to swallow, especially since the Village of Wind Point’s total budget is $1.4 million, Hawes said.
Caledonia Fire Chief Dick Roeder told the Caledonia Village Board that the contract was a “win-win” because the additional revenue would reduce the Caledonia Fire Department levy by 6.6 percent. Roeder also told the board that the department would be able to keep its Safer Grant, which pays for two more employees on the department, and it would not exceed the fire department’s ability to serve Caledonia.
Tom Friedel, city administrator for Racine, said the fire department was unable to match Caledonia’s bid.
“Losing this contract, we’ll deal with it,” Friedel said. “When you do fees for services like this, you have to understand that you might lose them.”