Delafield Fire & EMS Hope for Voter Support in April 
March 6, 2023

Tamira Musgrave



  • Delafield is currently the lowest-taxed municipality in Waukesha County, with a rate of $1.44 per thousand. 
  • If the requested referendum passes, it would only increase the tax rate to $1.73, keeping the Town of Delafield on the list of the lowest-taxed municipalities in Waukesha.
  • This referendum would allow a $470,000 increase in the town’s levy, resulting in seven new firefighters and EMS staff members, plus an additional seven staff members in 2024. 
  • The referendum aims to secure more full-time positions, positively impact response times, and eliminate or reduce closures due to staff shortages. 

On January 10, 2023, the Town Board approved placing a referendum question on the April ballot. The questions will ask residents of Delafield if they will allow a $470,000 increase in the town’s levy in exchange for retaining seven new firefighters and EMS staff members, plus hiring additional staff in 2024. Fire and EMS in the Town of Delafield hope for voter support in April so they can expand their teams and better serve the community. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the referendum and how it would impact you.

What is the 2024 Fire & EMS Tax Referendum?

On Tuesday, January 10, the Delafield Town Board voted to approve a resolution to present a referendum on the April 4 Spring Election ballot. This referendum asks taxpayers in Delafield to increase the town levy by $470,000 for the 2023 taxes; this would secure more funding for the Lake Country Fire and Rescue department that serves and protects Delafield. 

This funding will help secure seven full-time firefighters and EMS staff and retain seven additional staff members in 2024. The fire department has prioritized this request since they’ve been experiencing noticeable increases in response time and staff shortages over the past year. 

This increase would equate to an additional $142.30 on a tax bill for a home assessed at $500,000. 

Full-Time Staffing Model

Across the map, various Fire Departments have been feeling the impact of these staff shortages. Many departments are operating under part-time, paid-on-call, or volunteer staffing models. The demand for these part-time staff members is incredibly high. However, few are willing to take on the demanding, high-stress, paid-on-call positions. 

More communities have been shifting their departments to a full-time model, although a significant roadblock for many departments is the lack of funding to transition successfully. 

Fire/EMS Increase in Response Times

From 2021-2022, the Lake Country Fire and Rescue has seen a 34% increase in response times. LCFR’s response times are currently averaging around 11 minutes or more and are leaning toward the higher side. The American Heart Association recommends EMS response times of no more than 8 minutes to respond to patients suffering from cardiac arrest or heart attacks. 

A severe staff shortage is the main issue contributing to these increased response times. One of the primary stations that Lake Country Fire & Rescue operates out of is being forced to shut its doors 50% of the time due to its staff shortage. 

This problem indicates a need for more staff members to fill these positions so the residents of Delafield can be kept safe. The proposed referendum aims to support the LCFR in securing more full-time staffing, reducing or eliminating closures, and regaining optimum response times. 

Concerns Regarding Funding 

Wisconsin imposes levy limits, determining how municipalities will tax their residents. Delafield maintains the lowest tax rate in Waukesha County ($1.44 per thousand assessed). 

The town can increase its taxes by an approved referendum by the voters, which is why we are seeing this request being added to the ballot. Residents will be asked to increase the total tax levy by $470,000 to address these critical staffing issues from the Lake Country Fire and Rescue consortium. 

How This Referendum Would Change Your Taxes

The proposed referendum will have a small impact on tax bills in the Town of Delafield. The table indicates the monthly and yearly additional costs based on home value. 

Assessed Home Value$250K$500K$750K$1M$2M
Cost Increase Per Month$5.94$11.88$17.82$23.76$47.52
Cost Increase Per Year$71.29$142.57$213.86$285.15$570.29
Increased Cost Per Household

Below, you can see how the Town of Delafield currently ranks and how it would rank after the referendum. If the referendum were to pass, the town would continue to have one of the lowest tax rates in Waukesha County.

MunicipalityTax Rate(per thousand)
Town of Delafield (Current Budget)1.44
Town of Genesee1.52
Town of Delafield with $470,000 levy increase1.73
Town of Merton1.80
Town of Oconomowoc1.83
Town of Eagle1.89
Village of Vernon1.91
Village of Waukesha1.45
City of Pewaukee3.01
Town of Mukwonago4.45
Town of Brookfield3.47
Town of Lisbon3.01
City of Delafield3.87
Village of Hartland4.69

Delafield is the lowest-taxed municipality in Waukesha County currently, with a rate of just $1.44 per thousand. If the requested tax levy referendum passes, the town will remain one of the lowest-taxed municipalities in Waukesha with a rate of $1.73. 

This slight difference has the potential to make a significant impact on the Fire and EMS teams serving the area, including positively impacting response times for residents. That being said, Lake Country Fire & Rescue hopes to garner voter support before the April election so they can offer faster, more efficient services to the town.

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