Posts Tagged fire district to seek tax levy increase

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the dailyherald.com:

The Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District’s request for a property tax increase has failed yet again. Voters have a history of denying the district’s attempts to bring in more cash, and Tuesday’s election was no different. A binding referendum question seeking a 60 percent tax rate increase was denied in a 4,695 to 4,353 vote, according to unofficial tallies. The measure was a do-over from the March election, when the tax increase was rejected by a roughly 30-vote margin.

The cash-strapped district was hoping to use the additional $1 million or more per year to replace aging equipment, make crucial vehicle repairs, and bring staffing up to safer levels.  The board already has cut several firefighter positions in the past two years, including three part-time posts in the spring. The reduced staffing levels have forced the district to occasionally brown-out one of its two stations.

Fire officials for years have been debating how best to serve the district’s 25,000 residents while operating on what they say is insufficient funding. In the past, they’ve even contemplated outsourcing services or dissolving the district.

The referendum question on Tuesday’s ballot asked to raise the district’s tax rate from 27 cents to 43 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. 

thanks Dan

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

The Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District could be facing more budget cuts after voters Tuesday shot down a request to increase the property tax rate by 60 percent.

The binding referendum question received 4,694 “no” votes and 4,351 “yes” votes with all precincts reporting in Kane and DuPage counties, according to unofficial tallies. The tax hike would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $53 per year, bringing in at least an extra $1 million for the district.

This is the second time voters denied the fire district’s request for a tax hike. The cash-strapped agency now will likely have to cut more firefighter positions and potentially brown-out one of its two stations on a rotating basis, Chief John Nixon said.

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 election, a residents group has been making its final push to spread the word about a proposed property tax increase for the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District. 

The volunteers created a website, held informational meetings and increased their presence on social media. They handed out brochures during community events and communicated with homeowners associations. Most recently, they’ve been walking house to house to distribute door hangers in neighborhoods near St. Charles. The goal is to inform residents of the potential for reduced services if voters don’t approve a 16-cent tax rate increase for the cash-strapped district.

A binding referendum question on the ballot next week seeks to raise the property tax rate from 27 cents to 43 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. If approved, the measure would generate at least an extra $1 million to replace aging equipment and bring staffing up to safe levels, Fire Chief John Nixon said.

Residents now have a second chance to vote on the tax hike, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 house an additional $53 a year.

Fire district officials for years have been grappling with how to operate on their existing tax rate, which they say is the lowest in the area. The fire board decided this spring to cut three part-time firefighter positions and a handful of full-time positions were eliminated two years ago. If voters say no again, trustees will be faced with determining how to pay for necessary vehicle repairs, replace equipment and continue operating on what they say is insufficient funding.

That likely would mean cutting more positions and browning out one of its two stations on a rotating basis.

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the kanecountychronicle.com:

Officials at the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District are hoping voters will support their referendum for a 16-cent tax increase Nov. 6. The increase would boost the fire district’s tax rate to 44 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation, up from its almost 27 cents per $100 EAV. The increase would provide about $1 million more in revenue for the district, which covers about 38 square miles and serves residents in Campton Hills, Wayne and St. Charles townships.

The measure failed by 32 votes in the March 20 primary, but a portion of the question was left off the primary ballots. Officials filed suit for the omission and got the question on the congressional election ballot.

“It’s the identical proposition and we are in the same place financially,” Handley said. “If it doesn’t pass, we are going to have to figure out how to fund capital replacements. That west-side station has been closed off and on because we can’t get part-time people to work for $13.50 an hour.”

The district has had five failed referendums, six if the March 20 primary vote is included.

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South Elgin and Countryside Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

The South Elgin and Countryside Fire Protection District held an open house Thursday about two referendum questions on the March 20 election ballot. 

One referendum question asks permission to borrow $10 million to build two new fire stations. That would result in an estimated $62.58 annual property tax increase for a home with a $200,000 market value.

The other question asks for a 0.1 percent increase to the fire district levy — technically to create a new emergency and rescue fund — to pay for additional firefighters and equipment. That would result in an estimated $66.67 annual property tax increase for a home with a $200,000 market value.

Those who claim homeowners’ exemptions would pay slightly less. The fire district levy represents about 4.5 percent of property tax bills, with an additional 0.6 percent for firefighters’ pensions.

The 24-square-mile district has two stations, employs 30 full-time firefighters/paramedics and 10 part-timers who last year responded to 2,900 calls — 70 percent for emergency medical services. That’s up from 2,600 calls five years ago.

The plan is to build two new stations, one at 498 South Elgin Blvd. and one at 1090 Spring St., the latter to replace an aging station that also houses administrative offices. The district would hire at least nine more full-time firefighters and more part-timers.

The village anticipates more residential and commercial development on the far east side, including townhouses, a memory care facility and possibly grocery stores. Under the plan, the three fire stations would be well-positioned to each cover about a third of the district.

The fire district has owned the property on South Elgin Boulevard for years; it bought the Spring Street property for $350,000 in December after the price dropped considerably.

If the plan moves forward, the vacated station on State Street, adjacent to village hall, would likely be sold to the village. 

thanks Dan

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the Kane-Chronicle.com:

Voters defeated the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District’s second attempt at a rate increase with 1,451 no votes to 935 yes votes, a difference of 516 votes, according to unofficial results in Kane and DuPage counties the night of the April 4 consolidated election.

The district sought an increase to nearly 53 cents, up from 27 cents, per $100 of equalized assessed value. The new rate would have boosted its levy to nearly $5 million and would have helped replace an aging fleet and equipment, provide for adequate staffing, and reduce its debt.

As this is the second failure – a similar request in 2015 was defeated – district officials will have to consider being dissolved and the area it serves divided among other fire districts.

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

Fire district attorney Kenneth Shepro said the board faces some tough choices.

“The board will have to take a hard look at the available options,” Shepro said. “The dilemma remains that there is not enough money to buy new equipment and sustain existing staffing levels – something has got to give. I think the board will have all options on the table.”

Still, Shepro said he preferred to think of the current defeat as nearly doubling its support from the previous failed referendum.

“In our journey of a thousand miles, we went from 25 percent to 40 percent in support … with a turnout of a thousand fewer voters,” Shepro said. “We improved by over a thousand votes.”

thanks Dennis

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the kanecountychronicle.com:

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 ChicagoTribune.com:

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)

From the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District website:

The Board of Trustees of the Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District have called for a special meeting on Monday March 6, 2017 at 630 pm. The meeting will be held as a Town Hall session focused on providing the district residents with information and facts about the pending referendum ballot question seeking an increase in the fire district tax levy. The goal of this meeting is to help residents understand the current condition of their fire department and exactly why this request is so important. Information provided will include important financial information about the fire district budget, the condition of the apparatus fleet and equipment and also an understanding of the department capabilities with regard to current staffing. In addition, residents will be able to compare the Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District levy against its neighboring fire agencies and how your fire district rating affects your homeowners insurance. Please attend this important meeting and bring a neighbor along with your questions and concerns. This Town Hall Meeting will be hosted at Fire Station 1, 34W500 Carl Lee Road

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Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

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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