Excerpts from the New Lenox FPD website:

On March 19th, the New Lenox Fire Protection District Board of Trustees voted to secure a $750,000 Tax Anticipation Warrant to cover the district’s budget deficit. This extra funding will fill the gap between when the district runs out of funds in April and when the next tax revenues are received in June.

Due to the lack of revenue with no sources for new funding, the NLFPD had to make some difficult decisions to keep the district running at a lower cost. To do this, residents will be seeing cuts over the next week to facilities, personnel, and services.

On Friday, March 30th, Station 2, at 1205 N. Cedar Road will be closing its doors until further notice due to a reduction in firefighter/paramedic positions. The district will be cutting 4 positions per shift, which includes both part-time and full-time personnel. Earlier this year, cuts also took place in administration after one employee left, leaving an open position which will not be filled. Other programs that involve using shift personnel and apparatus for long periods of time will also be reduced or eliminated.

The NLFPD has tried to pass referendums to increase the tax rate five times over the past 12 years (2006, 2009, 2011, 2014, and March 2018), knowing this day would eventually come. During this time, the district has cut back on spending and was able to tighten their belts to keep the current situation at bay, but the district can no longer afford to operate at less than half of the budgets of neighboring towns, while giving the same services.

“The residents voted, and without having an end in sight, we had to make the best decisions for our bottom line, and unfortunately, this was our only option,” stated Deputy Chief Dan Turner. “If the NLFPD does not pass a referendum soon to increase our funding, further cuts will happen. Without any additional funding coming our way we will need to keep borrowing money from future taxes and eventually we would owe more than we bring in.”

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Following the defeat of a fifth referendum for a tax rate increase, New Lenox Fire Protection District officials said their only option is to close one of its four fire stations and cut staff.

Station No. 2, which opened in 1970 at 1205 N. Cedar Road, will close Friday until further notice, and result in the reduction of four firefighter/paramedic positions. The district expects to save between $640,000 and $660,000 per year by closing the station.

The fire district board of trustees also voted at its March 19 meeting to issue $750,000 in Tax Anticipation Warrants to cover the district’s budget deficit. This extra funding will fill the gap between April, when the district runs out of funds and June, when property tax revenues are received. 

Nearly all of the district’s revenues comes from property taxes. The current levy is $4.7 million. Other funds come from grants, insurance payments for ambulance service, donations, false alarm fines, and construction plan reviews. Grants and donations provide money for special equipment.

In the March primary, a referendum to increase the fire district’s tax rate from 38 cents to 59 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation was defeated by 212 votes. They will try again for a rate hike in November.

The New Lenox Fire Protection District has not had a tax rate increase since 1989, but has tried to pass referendums five times over the past 12 years, in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014 and March 2018. Since 1989, the population has more than doubled from 16,574 to 42,172 and the number of commercial and industrial buildings also has grown significantly, resulting in an increase in calls, from 890 in 1990, to 4,252 in 2017.

New Lenox Fire Protection District’s 38 cents is the lowest tax rate in the area. It is second to the Frankfort Fire Protection District, with a rate of 80 cents, which generates a levy of $10.6 million. Frankfort had 4,377 calls in 2017.

thanks Dan and Keith