Posts Tagged fire district seeks tax increase

Wonder Lake Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the NWHerald.com:

The Wonder Lake Fire Protection District is asking voters to approve a referendum March 17 election ballot increasing its property tax levy. An average homeowner with a $100,000 home currently pays $153 in taxes to the Wonder Lake Fire Protection District. If the referendum is successful, that would go up by $33, so the homeowner would pay $186. The amount of taxes currently able to be levied for the fire district is $963,994. The amount the WLFPD is asking for is $1,152,054.

One of the reasons this increase is needed is because the department is dealing with a 52 percent increase in general and workers compensation insurance. These are based on the pay of the worker, and will increase significantly when minimum wage becomes $15 an hour. The minimum wage increased this year, and per state law, will continue to go up until 2025, when it hits that $15 mark. With the current tax rate, the fire district’s budget will be consumed by payroll, leaving them with a deficit for operations.

Calls to the fire protection district have gone up by 43 percent over the past 19 years. Having only three members causes the fire district to have jump crew. If there’s a call for an ambulance, all three go to the ambulance call, and if there’s a fire call, all three go to the fire call.  If people are waiting for an ambulance or fire truck to come from McHenry or Richmond, that could mean a 12- to 15-minute wait.

In addition, the district’s equipment is aging. One of their front line engines is 26 years old. Engines made now are safer in the event of a rollover and have more protection for the people in the vehicles. With newer equipment, maintenance on the vehicles would go down, and the district could stop putting more money it can’t afford into these engines.

If the referendum gets approved, the fire district won’t actually see any additional money for a year, but after that year they would put a bid out for a new engine. If this referendum is not approved, it could mean potentially lowering the on-duty personnel.

There have been things the fire district has done to lower costs for the community, such as applying for state grants. In addition, they have minimized their command staff by not replacing people when they resigned.

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Lockport Township Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the herald-news.com:

The Lockport Township Fire Protection District will hold an informational meeting for residents about an upcoming ballot question on a modest tax increase. Voters in the district will decide March 17 on the district’s first proposed tax increase in 20 years. The ballot question asks residents for the increase of 0.1% of the equalized assessed value of taxable property. For the average family in the district, that increase would be equal to about $66 a year.

District officials will provide more information on the referendum and answer questions at the meeting on March 4 at 6 p.m. at the Prairie Bluff Golf Club, located at 19433 Renwick Road in Lockport. For more information about the ballot question, residents can go to lockportfire.org.

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Prospect Heights Fire District news (more)

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

Prospect Heights area voters approved a tax hike Tuesday to help fund the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District.  The property tax hike is expected to cost the average taxpayer an extra $34 a year. With all 10 precincts reporting, the unofficial totals showed 1,219 voters said yes to the plan (59.5 percent), and 829 voters said no.

Fire Protection District officials say the increase is necessary to maintain current staffing levels, properly respond to service calls and replace emergency vehicles. Over the past five years, the fire protection district has cut about $500,000 in personnel to balance the budget, including reducing the number of administration positions to two from five.

The district receives about 92 percent of its revenues from property taxes, 7 percent from ambulance transportation fees, and 1 percent from miscellaneous sources.

The fire protection district also plans to replace three aging emergency vehicles over the next three years, including a ladder truck, pumper, and ambulance, as well as complete maintenance on the stations. 

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Prospect Heights Fire District news

Excerpts from the Journal-Topics.com:

The Prospect Heights Fire District has been expected to do more with less for a number of years. A falling property value base caused by the 2008 recession has necessitated the district’s request for a tax hike referendum.

The referendum question reads: “Shall the extension limitation under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District be increased from the lesser of 5% or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index over the prior levy year to 4% for the 2017 levy year? For the 2017 Levy Year the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $11.49.”

According to Fire Chief Drew Smith’s numbers, with voter approval the average single-family home would pay an additional $34 per year in property taxes to the district. That would generate approximately $155,000. The additional funds would allow fire staffing levels to remain adequate and bolster a capital reserve fund for much needed equipment maintenance.

The fire district is it’s own taxing government separate from the City of Prospect Heights. In 2013, six positions in the department were eliminated through attrition. Spending cuts in 2015 eliminated a part-time position, and since 2017, a full-time deputy chief’s position and a full-time administrative assistant have gone unfilled as well as a part-time records clerk. The chief and a deputy chief are all that remains at the head of the department from 9 to 5 each day.

While expected larger revenue collections have remained nearly flat since 2008, the department has maintained a balanced budget without deficit spending. It continues to balance a small, full-time staff with a larger, part-time staff that does not require pension or benefit obligations. Fire officials have had to get creative with spending on vehicle upgrades, which has saved nearly $400,000 for taxpayers, rather than spending the huge amounts needed for brand new vehicles. Fire board members ruled out selling bonds and taking on new debt last year, so as not to ask more of taxpayers. While it has received $2 million in various grant funds since 2001, those are funds that cannot be counted on every year.

The amount the district can collect in property taxes remains flat, but costs for insurance, maintenance, and fuel continue to rise. Over 90% of the district’s revenue comes from property taxes. All-in-all, Smith says the district could use another $1 million for everything it needs, but asking that much of taxpayers could end up proving fruitless.

In 2017 the fire district responded to the highest number of calls in its history: 2,140. An aging yet growing population and newer, larger homes in the area seem to have stretched the department to its max.

Up until the early 1990s, Prospect Heights’ fire department was mainly all-volunteer. Today, in the middle of a burgeoning region of people and structures, it has morphed into a service that should be more in line with its neighboring departments. The Journal Topics support a properly-funded, reliable fire service in any town, and a yes vote for this referendum. Further cuts could greatly affect the people of Prospect Heights. Approximately $34 more per year, or about $3 per month, is a reasonable request.

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Pingree Grove & Countryside Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

Fire officials in Pingree Grove are taking another stab at asking voters permission to borrow $8.5 million to build two new fire stations, which they say will be better positioned to serve a growing population.

A “yes” to the referendum question on the ballot March 20 would yield a property tax increase of about $90 for a house with a $300,000 market value, Fire Chief Mitch Crocetti said. That’s $27 less than the tax increase projected last year, because the district has grown since voters rejected the proposal in April 2017, he said.

The Pingree Grove & Countryside Fire Protection District would repay the bonds over 20 years with $2 million from its general fund — at the rate of $100,000 per year — and $6.5 million with the property tax increase that would expire after two decades, Crocetti said.

Informational sessions are planned at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Cambridge Lakes Community Center, 1125 Wester Blvd., Pingree Grove and 7 p.m. Thursday at Station 2, 10N980 Rippburger Road, Plato Center.

The district employs 54 firefighters who responded to 1,096 calls in 2017, up from 1,036 calls in 2016. The 50-square-mile district serves about 15,000 residents in Pingree Grove, the north end of Campton Hills, and unincorporated areas. More residences are expected to be built in Cambridge Lakes subdivisions.

The district has three fire stations, two of which — Station 2 on Rippburger Road and Station 4 on Plank Road — are outdated and would be closed and sold if the two new facilities are built.

Station 2 is unstaffed and Station 4 has trailers for firefighters. “They were built as callback stations, they were never intended to be lived in,” he said. The stations are landlocked, but even if they could be upgraded, they are in the wrong spot geographically, he said.

The two new stations, which would have living quarters for firefighters, would be built on land to be purchased on Highland Avenue just east of Coombs Road, and on Dittman Road about ? mile south of Plato Road. The district has earmarked about $600,000 in this year’s $3.3 million budget to buy property and commission architectural plans.

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Morris Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the morrisherald-news.com:

The Morris Fire & Protection District will be seeking a tax increase on the March 20, 2018 general election. The district approved unanimously on Nov. 16 a measure to place a referendum on the ballot to impove ambulance service for residents and visitors to the district.

If the referendum passes. it would increase the maximum ambulance tax rate for the district from 10 cents per $100 to 35 cents per $100. If the district levied the full amount available, the owner of a $100,000 home who is currently paying $3 for the service would see an increase of approximately $7 per month in ambulance service taxes.

“The district has taken a very fiscally responsible approach to budgeting and the trustees will continue this effort,” Board President Dave Bonomo said. “To meet the needs of our District taxpayers and provide outstanding ambulance and fire response we are asking for our first-rate increase in 25 years.”

The district would take the maximum increase and purchase another ambulance while the additional funds will be used to replace the 72-year-old downtown fire station. The district has a capital fund for building replacement that currently has a balance of $1.6 million dollars. The estimated cost of replacement is $2.75 to $3 million dollars.

The district serves approximately 22,000 residents across 140 square miles in Grundy County.

The board determined that the district needs to expand its advanced life support (ALS) ambulance coverage to district residents due to the continued increase of emergency medical calls. To increase ALS coverage, the district would add a third ambulance to its current fleet available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The district has been operating on the current tax rate since 1992 and feels it needs this increase to provide the needed services for the increase in calls and an aging population. If a majority of voters in the district approve, the district would be permitted to increase its ambulance levy up to a maximum of 35 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

In addition to the expanded ALS ambulance coverage, the district also plans to use the increased tax revenue to replace aging emergency vehicles and to retain trained personnel.

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