Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:
If Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District’s upcoming referendum question seeking to increase the property tax levy by 95 percent fails, Fire Chief John Nixon said the fire district would likely fold within two years.
“It would be a slow and painful death,” Nixon said. “I wouldn’t give it more than two years.”
If the fire district closed, the State Fire Marshal would be responsible for dividing up its coverage area to neighboring fire districts. It would mean residents within the fire district would see emergency response time increase by 12 to 15 minutes, he said.
“It is not in our nature to be intimidating or threatening,” Nixon said. “We have to show people the facts and you can draw your own conclusions.”
Nixon outlined the district’s finances and the referendum question on the April 4 ballot at a town hall meeting Monday. The meeting was for informational purposes and neither Nixon nor the board could take a stand.
The referendum question asks should the property tax levy be increased from the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index over the prior levy year to 95 percent per year for the 2017 levy year.
A property owner with a home valued at $300,000 would pay an additional $300 a year, Nixon said. If approved, the referendum would generate an increase of $2.5 million.
Compared to neighboring fire district, Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District would continue to have the lowest tax rate, he said. As a fire protection district, it only has one source of revenue: property taxes.
The fire district does not have any money set aside for a capital asset replacement fund and has aging equipment. Equipment such as life packs are becoming obsolete and need to be replaced. A single life pack costs $40,000 and the they have five. There is not $200,000 to replace that equipment.
District officials said the plan is to use the money generated from the referendum for a capital asset replacement fund, personnel, and equipment.
Currently, the fire district has two firefighters per engine. Fire safety standards recommend four. There should be two paramedics per ambulance call, however the fire district operates with one paramedic and one EMT.
The fire district handles calls within a 38 square mile area. Twenty seven percent of the calls are overlapping, meaning firefighters need to rely on mutual aid.
“This is a plan, it is a responsible plan,” Nixon said. “It presents a model for sustaining (the district). Our goal is a sustainable operation for the fire and ambulance service for years to come. Every dollar is accountable to you, the taxpayers.”
The fire district has been doing a social media campaign and has a website dedicated to the referendum. There is another town hall meeting scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 13 at the Campton Township Community Center, 5N082 Old LaFox Road.
thanks Dan & Scott