Excerpts from rrstar.com:

The Cherry Valley Fire Protection District wants a proposed $2.25 million bond sale that will go before voters on the March 17 ballot. The owner of a $100,000 home will see a $22 annual increase in property taxes over the 10-year life of the bonds.

If voters approve the proposal, district officials will use the money to pay off debt related to construction of Station No. 2 at 4919 Blackhawk Road, $1.1 million; improvements to the district’s downtown administration building, $92,764; and purchases of two used firetrucks, $780,254; and a new ambulance, $300,000.  The district makes annual loan payments of $272,151 plus $77,163 per year in interest which prevent officials from being able to sock away money to pay for future firetrucks and building repairs.

The Cherry Valley Fire Protection District is a separate taxing body from the village of Cherry Valley. The district covers 30 square miles and serves a population of 31,000 people. Station No. 2 was built in 2001.

Like many fire departments around the nation, the Cherry Valley Fire Protection District found it difficult to attract and retain volunteer firefighters. To maintain an adequate level of protection for its 30-square-mile service area, in 2006 the district began to employ full-time firefighters but capital funding stopped. Two years later, the recession hit. The district’s two primary sources of revenue, property taxes and ambulance fees, have failed to keep pace with rising operating expenses.

The district’s operating budget has nearly doubled, from $2.3 million in the 2005-2006 fiscal year to $4.5 million this fiscal year. Of that amount, $2.3 million is budgeted for wages and benefits for the administrative staff, 15 full-time firefighters and 25 paid on-call firefighters. They have instituted several cost-saving measures which included streamlining the district’s fleet of vehicles by eliminating two rescue squads, one grass rig, one ambulance, one utility vehicle, and two trailers. The district’s remaining vehicles, however, are aging and often need costly repairs. Less than four years ago three fire trucks, purchased in 1988, 1997, and 2008, all broke down at the same time. Cherry Valley found itself leasing a reserve fire truck from Rockford at a rate of $500 a day until the trucks were repaired. Other cost-saving measures included elimination of two annual events — the vehicle extrication competition, which Cherry Valley firefighters hosted, and the district’s awards ceremony. The elimination of the two events saved the district about $30,000.

Public presentations about the referendum question are scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 27 and 2 p.m. Feb. 29