Posts Tagged Fire Chief John Nixon

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District officials said they will seek a fifth tax increase referendum on the March 20 primary ballot, but voters may also see an advisory question, asking if they would support closing one of the district’s two stations in order to cut costs, officials said at its Sept. 25 meeting.

With the failure of four previous requests for a tax rate increase – in 2006, 2009, 2015 and 2017 – board members said they did not have enough money to buy equipment or to pay its firefighters enough to keep them from leaving for other departments.

Board members did not determine how much to ask for this time, but said they would couple it with an advisory question asking if voters would support closing one of the two stations to save money.

“We keep saying bad things will happen if the referendum doesn’t pass,” fire district attorney Ken Shepro said. “Unless they are really insiders, [voters’] perception is [that] nothing has changed. The trucks keep rolling, these guys still show up.”

Fire Chief John Nixon said they keep responding to fires and heart attacks and that makes people think the district is doing well financially.

The district serves 25,000 residents in a 38-square-mile area that includes parts of St. Charles, Campton and Wayne townships and portions of Kane and DuPage counties.

Board President Bob Handley also suggested contracting with neighboring districts – Elburn, South Elgin, Bartlett, and St. Charles – to provide firefighting services while the district would retain its ambulance service – which is 70 percent of its calls. Doing that would reduce labor costs.

“Or we could just dissolve the district and let it go wherever the state fire marshal puts it,” Handley said. “Ideally, we would pass a referendum and stay in business. Our problem is replacing our equipment and keeping our manpower. It’s a tightrope we have to walk. Unless we get the public nervous, they’re not going to do anything.”

Shepro said dissolving the district is not within the board’s authority.

“The district can only be dissolved by petition of the voters of the district and another referendum,” Shepro said. “In theory, the voters could say no, do not dissolve the district. But we don’t have the capability to maintain operations … [so] a judge comes in and decides what to do.”

If the district was dissolved, its assets and debts would divvied up to neighboring fire districts.

Officials have until January to set its referendum questions.

thanks Dan

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the

Officials from the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District are hopeful that voters will approve a tax increase referendum in the April 4 consolidated election.

The district is seeking an increase to nearly 53 cents up from 27 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. The new rate would boost its levy to nearly $5 million.

The money will help replace its aging fleet and equipment, provide for adequate staffing and reduce its debt.

Based on feedback, fire board President Bob Handley said things are looking brighter for the referendum to pass, as opposed to a similar request in 2015, which voters rejected.

The district covers 38 square miles and serves about 25,000 residents in Campton Hills, Wayne and St. Charles townships in Kane and DuPage counties.

If the referendum fails this time, the district risks being dissolved, and the area it serves would be divided among other fire districts. The Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District, for example, has a rate of .749 – or nearly 75 cents – per $100 EAV.

One district resident, Michael Schulz of Wayne, who voted no in 2015, said he will vote no again and welcomes paying more taxes to be in another district.

“I agree that taxes would likely go up,” Schulz said. “That would put me in a fire district that is well established, well managed, has a good operational history and is not staffed by transient employees … .”

Schulz said the high rate of turnover in the Fox River district is because career firefighter/paramedics see it as a stepping stone to more established fire districts that pay more.

“I don’t have any faith in the board,” Schulz said. “You get what you pay for. I am wiling to pay whatever it takes to get a good, solid, stable district for my house.”

Schulz said the higher tax rates of other districts would be lowered by the impact of adding more properties into their districts.

Campton Township resident Dick Johansen said he voted no last time but plans to vote yes this time.

“The reason I’m in favor of this now is the question is quite clearly stated on the ballot, not like last time,” Johansen said. “Other surrounding fire districts are higher by a huge amount. It’s a case of paying a little bit now or a huge amount later.”

The potential change represents a property tax increase of $86 a year for a house with a fair market value of $100,000; $172 for a house valued at $200,000; or $258 for a house valued at $300,000.

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the

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

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District officials on Monday continued preparations for an April tax increase referendum even while keeping one eye on the money vacuum a pending nearby drug treatment facility may pose. A financial presentation Monday night helped quantify the district’s push for more tax dollars.

At first glance, the district has about $1.4 million in reserves and $2.43 million coming in every year in property taxes. Add another $212,000 of ambulance fees with four months left in the district’s budget year, and everything seems to be on track. But the district gets most of its cash up front with the payment of property tax bills. The next four months will be almost a straight cash drain.

Vehicle maintenance costs have already surpassed this year’s budget. And that doesn’t factor in one of the district’s primary fire trucks going out of commission. The truck is still under warranty, barely, but the absent equipment highlights the fact that there isn’t any long-term financial plan to replace the truck or any of the other major apparatus in the department.

Fire Chief John Nixon and some of the district’s trustees plan to demonstrate the exact financial position of the district at a public information forum on the April referendum scheduled for 6:30 p.m., March 6, at the fire district station on Carl Lee Road.

Before that, on Feb. 9, fire district officials will hear the verdict of Kane County’s zoning board of appeals on the push to open a drug-treatment center just outside of Campton Hills. Fire district officials believe the facility will add a significant amount of new ambulance calls onto a staff that’s already been stretched to cut costs by shifting to some part-timers.

Ken Shepro, the fire district’s attorney, said he’s concerned that the zoning board would not accept information about how often the district believes calls to the drug treatment facility will leave half of residents with much longer response times.

“How many calls will we get? Well, we don’t know because every time we’d try to say during the hearing that (the drug treatment facility) was similar to something else they would say that wasn’t like what they were planning to do. We never really found out what they do plan on being like.”

Shepro said the zoning board also never got an answer as to what types of emergency calls the drug treatment facility will generate. Representatives of the facility testified there would be no calls to the facility that wouldn’t be typical for any other customer of the fire district.

The fire district faces a possible shake-up in representation as all three trustee seats on the April ballot are contested.

thanks Dan

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Antioch renews contract with Superior

The Lake-County Sun has an article about Antioch’s decision to extend their EMS contract for another year:

Metro Paramedic Services will continue to provide emergency medical services in the village for at least another year. Village officials agreed to renew the contract with Metro to provide six paramedics and six emergency medical technicians to staff the two village-owned fire stations 24 hours daily. The 12 state-certified ambulance personnel employed by Metro are all local volunteer firefighters.

Metro has been providing both equipment and personnel since the village terminated its 72-year relationship with the not-for-profit Antioch Rescue Squad on June 1, 2013.

Metro is a contract agency that employs trained firefighters, paramedics and EMTs to many fire agencies throughout northern Illinois. “It is a cost effective alternative to municipalities hiring their own full-time employees,” said Fire Chief John Nixon. Metro also provides all applicable benefits to their employees.

The village will save about $106,000 annually by contracting for only personnel and dropping a contract for equipment. Antioch Firefighters Association last month donated an ALS (advanced life support) ambulance bringing the village’s fleet to three fully-equipped ALS ambulances. The personnel-only contract will cost the village $795,376 annually or $66,281 monthly.

Last year, the village purchased a used 2000 International Ambulance with 22,000 miles and obtained another used 2000 ambulance with funds from the state Foreign Fire Insurance Tax Board. The vehicles and equipment had to pass state inspection before they could be used by the village. That step was completed Friday, said Nixon.

Even though the village is saving money by providing its own vehicles, revenue falls far short of costs, said Nixon. The average cost of an EMS call is $920. Nixon estimates the cost for 1,863 projected annual EMS calls will total $1.128 million, but estimated revenue will probably be at only 42 percent of that total for the first year or $475,000.

Nixon said about 32 percent of rescue calls are reimbursed by insurance, 33 percent are covered by Medicare and 12 percent are covered by Medicaid. The balance of patients have no insurance and in many cases, can’t pay the cost for the service. To help balance revenue with expenses, village officials also agreed to raise ambulance and life safety fees.

Nixon said the new rates are comparable to rates charged by other neighboring municipalities that do not levy a tax for EMS services. He projects the combined cost for EMS and fire services in the village will total $840,000.

The village is working with the township, served by the First Fire Protection District, to jointly provide fire and rescue services and reduce costs. The villages shares costs with the fire district for fire protection but each entity is responsible for providing its own rescue service. The township is continuing to contract with Antioch Rescue Squad for rescue calls in the township. The contract with ARS expires May 8. Because EMS is not funded through tax revenue the village and fire district are exploring the option of a tax levy to help offset ambulance service costs.

“If a tax levy were in place for EMS we could significantly lower fees,” said Nixon, explaining the higher fees adopted by the village board will help cover the costs to serve all residents, including those who can’t afford to pay.

“Right now the revenue to cover those expenses is coming from the village’s general fund, which also pays for fire, police, village and parks services.”


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