To the Editor:
After hearing Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Chief Michael Hill speak at the Woodstock library this week, I was convinced to support the district's referendum to raise its tax rate above Property Tax Extension Limitation Law limits.
The presentation outlined staffing, budget and deployment of human resources across three fire and rescue response stations. The chief apparently has cut the Woodstock staff to the bone, given he is required to comply with state mandates.
Hill also has managed to provide excellent response times and service outcomes for quite some time, with less than optimal equipment at the department's disposal while facing spiking call volumes in the past two years.
Even so, the fire district is conducting statistical analysis of its human and capital resources deployment schema as they relate to ratios of population, assessed property values and standard practices in the industry.
I will vote yes for the referendum to raise tax rates for the fire district because I fear the risk of running the department "on a shoestring" outweighs the risk engendered by property tax rate increases above our current extreme outlier of 4 percent. Because the Woodstock fire district is self-insuring for personal injury liability, even one personal injury lawsuit against the department for alleged "slow response time" would swallow whole the amount of annual cost burden (about $1.5 million, and rising with inflation?) that this referendum entails.