Posts Tagged Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

The sixth time was not the charm for Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District officials who were seeking a tax increase. Unofficial results Tuesday show voters narrowly defeated the tax hike request by just nine votes; 951 against the measure to 942 in favor of it. Final tallies won’t be certified for a few weeks to ensure all mail-in ballots were received.

Fire district officials estimated the owner of a $250,000 home would have paid an additional $135 a year in property taxes if it had passed. The new rate would have generated roughly $1.1 million additional property tax revenue for the district, Chief John Nixon said.

Requests for a property tax hike also failed in 2006, 2009, 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Tags: , , ,

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the kcchronicle.com:

Officials at the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District are hoping voters will approve their latest referendum request for a nearly 17-cent tax increase April 2.

The referendum asks to increase the rate to 43.52 cents per $100 equalized assessed valuation from the fire district’s current tax rate of 26.7 cents, an increase of 16.82 cents. A single family house with a fair market value of $100,000 would have an additional $56 in taxes to pay, if it passes. The increase would bring in about $1.5 million in additional revenue, which the district needs.

The district’s last request for a 16-cent increase failed in November by 32 votes.

The department has an ambulance that has more than 100,000 miles on it and a fire engine built in 1988, both of which need to be replaced.

Part-time pay for firefighters is $13.50 per hour.

The district covers areas of St. Charles and Campton townships and the villages of Campton Hills and Wayne.

Tags: , ,

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

A binding referendum question on the April 2 ballot will seek a 63 percent increase in the taxes paid to the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District. If approved the measure would put an additional $1.1 million in the district’s coffers each year to raise staffing levels and fund equipment replacements and repairs.

Voters have shot down six previous attempts by the district to raise the property tax rate in the last several years. The margin by which those measures failed has significantly narrowed since the district’s first request making officials hopeful for a more positive outcome this time around. The fire board found the March 2018 election especially promising given the fact that a proposed 60 percent increase failed by only 32 votes.

Public support and awareness grew during the November election season. With more than 9,000 people voting — at least three times larger than the district’s usual turnout — the referendum question lost by 342 votes.

If the tax hike passes, the district’s tax rate will increase from about 27 to 43 cents per $100 of taxable property value. That means the owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $56 more per year.

In recent years, the district has eliminated firefighter positions and reduced costs while continuing to operate on what officials say is insufficient funding. The board decided to hold off on discussing additional budget cuts until after the April election.

“Our message remains the same,” Fire Chief John Nixon said. “We have equipment that’s failing, radios becoming a safety issue, vehicles that are costing extra money to maintain because they’re in many cases reaching the end of life, and staffing shortfalls that have created uncomfortable situations for us where we have to run short.”

The fire district plans to ask a citizen group for help talking to residents about the upcoming referendum question. Information about the proposal likely will be sent out through social media and in newsletters.

The district covers 38 square miles of unincorporated areas in St. Charles and Campton townships, as well as Campton Hills and Wayne.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the dailyherald.com:

Six failed attempts at collecting more property tax revenue from residents have taken a toll on Fox River and Countryside fire officials. The cash-strapped district has been asking voters for years to raise its tax rate in hopes of increasing personnel levels and replacing aging equipment. At one point, the request even included a plan to build a third fire station at the center of the 38-square-mile district.

Instead, officials have had to cut firefighter positions and tighten their belts after voters rejected variations of the proposal time and time again. Their most recent request — a 60 percent hike — failed Nov. 6 by 342 votes. The margin by which the measure failed has narrowed significantly since the district’s first attempt, but the electorate also appeared to be completely different this time around. More than 9,000 votes were cast, compared to 2,000 in the spring.

Fire board members now plan to hold a special workshop to discuss how to continue operating on what they say is inadequate funding. Roughly 90 percent of the budget is funded by property taxes. At 27 cents per $100 of taxable property value, the district’s tax rate is one of the lowest in the area.

Reducing expenses, restructuring the district’s staffing model and seeking alternative coverage from other departments are among the options that could be considered. Trustees also are in the process of deciding what to do with a property at Bolcum and Crane roads, purchased years ago by the district as the intended site of a third station. After a referendum question failed in the spring, the board started looking into selling the property as a way to pad the district’s capital reserve fund. A recent appraisal determined the site is worth about $246,000. The nearby Fine Line Creative Arts Center has expressed interest in acquiring the site, but the nonprofit would first have to raise the money.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , ,

Victorville Fire Department hires former Illinois chief

Excerpts from the vvdailypress.com:

The City of Victorville, CA has tapped Greg Benson, a former fire chief with more than 35 years of public safety experience, to serve as the head of the Victorville Fire Department.

Benson will oversee the city’s underway transition from San Bernardino County Fire to its own agency. He is expected to begin April 23. The choice comes after conclusion of a nationwide search for a top official. A native of Illinois, Benson most recently oversaw the formation of the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District in Illinois, serving as the fire chief there for five years.

City officials said his experience leading the establishment of a new department and his focus on community engagement were major factors in their decision.

“In addition to leading the formation of a new fire department, Greg has helped fire departments nationwide achieve highly coveted accreditation status,” Interim City Manager Keith Metzler said in a statement. “These experiences along with his sincere commitment to community involvement make Greg the ideal person to lead our city’s fire department, oversee its formation, and ensure it achieves service excellence.”

Since retiring in 2015, Benson has acted as a professional services consultant assisting fire departments nationwide to achieve accreditation status. Benson will immediately be charged with staffing the new department. But in the long-run, officials hope he can garner accreditation status for the new department — a status reportedly achieved by less than 1 percent of the nation’s municipal fire agencies.

City officials have said a reactivation of its decade-long dormant city fire department will reduce spending by 5 percent annually and equate to a $3.8 million savings in the first five years — a shift supported by the majority council. After the first five years, officials expect cost savings of roughly 14 percent annually and also 70 percent less in pension costs than if the city were to continue with the San Bernardino County Fire.

Tags: , , , ,

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the KaneCountyChronicle.com:

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

Tags: , ,