Excerpts from the ChciagoTribune.com:

Bartlett Fire Protection District officials are hoping voters approve a referendum question for a tax increase April 4.

“We’re not asking to build another fire station or to hire more people,” Fire Chief Michael Falese said. “It’s to maintain our three fire stations and the current service level with run volume we have right now.”

Falese spoke to about 25 residents at a public meeting Monday night at Fire Station 1.

The fire district has been cutting corners for the past five years to the point that it can no longer sustain its service level without more revenue.

The proposed referendum will add $33 per $100,000 of assessed valuation to a home in the Cook County portion of Bartlett and $42 for those in the DuPage County part of the village. Officials confirmed Tuesday that the median home value in Bartlett is roughly $262,000, so the proposed annual tax increases for the average household would be $86 in Cook and $110 in DuPage.

The last time the fire district asked for a tax increase was more than a decade ago. Since then, overhead costs for supplies, equipment and fire apparatus have gone up, the population has increased by more than 25 percent and fire alarm costs have risen by at least 16 percent.

The fire district shared a document that enumerated 117 line items of financial efficiencies it has implemented, including searching for better prices, changing types of products and their methods of use, eliminating certain items, extending life spans of equipment, using resources from neighboring agencies, and numerous other cost-cutting measures concerning vehicles, facilities, and ambulance services.

“We’ve explored all our options,” Falese said. “Our water tanker truck has a rusted frame rail structure, but it’s still certified for use. We’re facing a $50,000 repair for a vehicle that’s worth about $27,000, and a replacement could cost $400,000.”

The Bartlett Fire Protection District serves about 52,000 residents and businesses, and 20 percent of its coverage territory lies outside village borders.

The district’s three fire stations are staffed by 45 full-time firefighter-paramedics, 15 part-time firefighter emergency medical technicians and six contract firefighter-paramedics.

Due to budgetary concerns, the assistant fire chief and one firefighter position are vacant. The fire district funding stands at $6.6 million from property taxes and $1.3 million from ambulance service reimbursement.

Fire district board president Jim McCarthy assured residents that the department was being a responsible steward of taxpayer money.