Comments (1) 10:30 AM posted by admin |
Yesterday I received an email from a constituent asking me whether or not they would see their homeowner’s insurance increase if the income tax proposal were defeated at the polls in November. There was even a letter to the editor in this week’s Ypsilanti Courier (located in Belleville for your convenience) claiming that our ISO rating would dramatically drop with the failure to adopt an income tax.
As always, I offer you my take on the issue.
The Insurance Services Office, headquartered in Jersey City, NJ, rates fire departments across the country to help insurance companies set rates and determine risks and liabilities.
ISO ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the highest and 10 being the lowest. There are approximately 45 communities in the United States that have a rating of 1. The only two major cities to achieve a 1 rating are Houston, TX and Las Vegas, NV. As everyone hopefully knows by now, Ypsilanti has an ISO rating of 4.
According to Insurance Services Offices, criteria for rating fire services is determined by such things as water supply, training, communications systems, response time, and equipment, with number of claims and severity playing a major role in determining rates.
It is important to understand that I’m not suggesting we reduce fire staffing levels. I am only trying to provide information and perspective.
With all that being said, would reducing fire personnel affect our ISO rating and increase insurance premiums as suggested by supporters of the income tax?
The answer is, I don’t know, however, let’s look at the City of Detroit as an example of what may happen in Ypsilanti.
At 2, the City of Detroit has the best ISO rating in the State of Michigan.
As a response to a projected $300M shortfall in their budget, Detroit trimmed 113 department jobs in July. In September, they announced an additional 75 cuts (with the mix being 65 firefighters and 10 battalion chiefs).
The relationship between staffing levels and public safety is very difficult to gauge. If we continue to use Detroit as an example, they have more fires and and a heavier workload today than they did in 1951 when the population of Detroit was a bustling 1.85M people — roughly twice as many as today. Detroit says they spend almost four times as much time fighting fires today than they did then because of the abandoned buildings and increased levels of poverty.
When asked about the staffing cuts in Detroit, ISO spokesperson Dave Dasgupta said that Detroit’s overall rating may not be significantly impacted if equipment is maintained, response times keep up, and other factors remain constant. ISO ratings are advisory in nature. Insurance companies set rates.
So what’s this mean to us? That’s up to you to decide. The information being presented isn’t always clear on presented without bias. The residents of Ypsilanti have a very important topic to weigh in on this November, but fearmongering shouldn’t be used as a basis of influencing that decision.