Posts Tagged Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District

Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from the

The Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District has gotten the thumbs-up to borrow $13 million for new equipment and an additional station.

Unofficial results show 1,912 people voted “yes” and 1,421 people voted “no,” with all 25 Kane County precincts reporting and two of three DuPage County precincts. Final results won’t be available until after July 12, which is the last day vote-by-mail ballots can be counted.

The district wants to use the money to pay off old debt, buy new vehicles and equipment, and eventually build a third fire station. That station would be on land the district already owns, at Crane and Bolcum roads in St. Charles Township.

District officials said response times in the 38-square-mile district are faster on its east and west sides, where the two existing stations operate — one in Wasco, one near Wayne. The third station would provide equity districtwide. Currently, average response times districtwide are 7 to 8 minutes, but it can take 10 minutes for rescue workers to get to the center of the district.

The district intends to put aside $5 million of the $13 million bond proceeds toward the construction of the station, which officials said likely won’t be built until at least 2025.

The district would use $5 million for equipment and vehicles, and the rest of the money would go to pay off the debt for the construction of the two existing stations.

If the district gets to borrow the $13 million, officials estimate that the owner of a house with a market value of $300,000 would pay $130.27 more in taxes a year. District officials said they intend to pay off the bonds in 10 years.

The district serves residents in the villages of Campton Hills and Wayne and unincorporated areas in St. Charles and Campton townships. It used to hire the St. Charles Fire Department to handle its calls, but in 2011 decided to start doing the work itself. Since then, voters have rejected tax-rate increases six times.

thanks Rob

Tags: ,

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the

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

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 & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District officials have been wrestling with funding solutions since their most recent attempt at a tax hike failed last month. On Monday, the board settled on a cost-saving option that would cut three part-time firefighter positions and allow both fire stations to remain open.

Eliminating one staff position per shift would result in a roughly $142,500 annual savings to hold over the cash-strapped fire district for the next several months. Fire officials intend to ask voters again in November for a property tax hike, which Chief John Nixon says is the most sustainable way to address the district’s funding shortage.

With the staffing cuts, which were unanimously approved by the board, one station would maintain current staffing levels. The other would be staffed with three firefighters who will go out on calls together leaving that station unmanned. Though not ideal, trustees said the measure prevents the district from having to close one station on an alternating basis, as had been previously considered.

The district was hoping to fund capital expenses, as well as increased personnel costs, by raising its property tax to 43 cents from 27 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. The measure would have generated an additional $1.48 million annually, but voters last month shot down the district’s request by roughly 30 votes. If a tax increase fails again in November, Nixon said the district will have no choice but to cut more positions and brown out one of its two stations. That would significantly increase response times for half the district.

The district also is considering other cost-saving options and one-time revenue sources, such as selling used equipment or selling land initially slated for building another fire station.

Attorney Ken Shepro said a group of residents has filed a request for a discovery phase in Kane and DuPage counties regarding the March election. In that process, county officials would check for errors that could be corrected for future elections, Those residents are also likely to try challenging the results of the referendum, as a portion of the question was cut off the ballot. Successfully contesting the vote won’t change the outcome, but it would allow the fire district to place the same question on the November ballot.

thanks Dan

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the

Fox River & Countryside officials are mulling over temporary fixes for filling the fire/rescue district’s depleting coffers after its most recent attempt to bring in more cash failed. But Chief John Nixon told the fire board Monday there’s only one sustainable solution for addressing the funding shortage: a property tax hike.

Voters last month narrowly rejected the district’s request to increase its property tax rate to 43 cents from 27 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. The measure would have generated about $1.48 million annually to fund critical equipment replacements and repairs, as well as increased personnel.

Without that money, officials have warned that the district likely would have to cut nine part-time firefighter positions and rotate closing one of its two fire stations each month. But during a special meeting Monday, Nixon urged the fire board to keep both stations open and find other ways to tighten its belt until the November election, when he expects the district to try again for a tax hike.

Browning out one station on a rotating basis would significantly increase emergency response times for half the district at any given time. It can take up to 16 minutes for first responders firefighters to get from one station to the other side of the 38-square-mile district.

Nixon said he’d bring back suggestions for cutting costs or implementing one-time revenues, such as selling equipment, to temporarily address the funding shortfall … the district also could consider selling land that has been slated for a new fire station, though the board president said he’d prefer to keep that property as a long-term option. The fire board is expected to discuss and possibly make a decision on potential short-term solutions next Monday.

Meanwhile, a group of residents already has begun planning an education campaign to support the district if another referendum question is placed on the November ballot. Out of four attempts in recent years, the district’s most recent request for a property tax hike failed by the slimmest margin: 32 votes.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Victorville Fire Department hires former Illinois chief

Excerpts from the

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: , , , ,

New ambulance for Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District

From the Fire Service, Inc. Facebook page:

Congratulations to the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District on the delivery of their new 2016 Wheeled Coach Type 1 4×4 ambulance. Cool bar HVAC, Liquid Spring hydraulic suspension, Impact suction system and Whelen LED lighting package will provide the district many years of service. Thank you to the Board of Trustees, and the district for your business. Welcome to the Fire Service, Inc. family!

Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District ambulance

New ambulance for the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District. Fire Service, Inc. photo

Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District ambulance

Fire Service, Inc. photo

rear chevron striping on ambulance

Fire Service, Inc. photo

ambulance interior

Fire Service, Inc. photo

Tags: , , , ,

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from the

The Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District Board voted recently to have some firefighters work part time and some remain full time. Board President Robert Handley said nine of the 24 firefighters will work part time, and 15 will be full time through the contract with Public Safety Services Inc. Part time means 30 hours a week instead of 40 for the full-time firefighters, Handley said. The board moved to a part-time model to save money.

“We decided to transition it … to less guys over a period of time,” Handley said. “It’s what our captains were comfortable with at this point.” He said the rough estimate of savings is $60,000 to $70,000.

After Fire Chief Carl DeLeo resigned recently, two captains are handling the chief’s responsibilities until a new chief can be hired, Handley said.

Handley said the district has to be able to set money aside to pay for equipment that needs to be replaced and the district likely will ask voters for a tax increase in April 2017.

“We’ll see how that floats with the residents,” Handley said. “We want to see how we shake out financially.”

At its January meeting, about 60 people packed the fire district’s board meeting to protest the part-time plan. Some criticized the board for not trying again on the primary ballot. A previous referendum request in April 2015 failed.

Two firefighters left when officials announced the move to have nine firefighters be part time.

“We lose guys all the time, because our pay is not where everyone else’s pay is,” Handley said “They work for us at $45,000 [a year], when they can go to St. Charles and make $75,000 to $80,000.”

Handley said most firefighters were happy to hear not all were going to go part time.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, but I think we are going to be OK,” Handley said. “We’ve got a great group of guys who are loyal and committed. I just wish we could pay them more.”

The board also accepted the appointments of Carl Herout and Tom Mullenhauer to fill the board vacancies.

Tags: , , , , ,

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news (more)

Excerpts from

Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District trustees Thursday night voted in a partial, part-time staffing model for fire and ambulance service. The staffing change appeared to be a compromise between what district trustees think may be needed to keep the lights on and what residents told trustees they would not accept at a recent meeting. Trustees had originally planned to implement an all part-time staff. Instead, they converted only some of the rescue staff to part-time status.

The district contracts out with a private company for fire and ambulance staffing. Moving forward, that staffing will see five people, one captain and four firefighter/paramedics at each of the district’s stations around the clock. That staff will be augmented by no fewer than three part-time employees. Those part-time employees will have all the same training as the full-time staff. Many of them will be full-time firefighter/paramedics at other area departments.

“This will save us money, but not as much as we had hoped,” said district President Bob Handley. “It’s a stopgap measure.”

With less savings, Handley said the district will seek a tax increase referendum, most likely in April 2017. If the tax increase request fails, as have all the district’s recent tax increase attempts, Handley said the next step would be implementing a completely part-time staff.

The staffing vote followed the appointment of two new trustees. Carl “Rudy” Herout and Tom Mollenhauer fill the slots recently vacated by the resignations of Trustee Terry Jeglum and former district President Jim Gaffney.

Trustees also announced they will appoint two existing staff members as interim co-chiefs while they begin the search for a new, full-time fire chief.

More updates on the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District can be found HERE

Tags: , , , ,

Fox River & Countryside Fire District opposes treatment center

Excerpts from the

 If a proposed alcohol and drug treatment center is permitted at a former boys’ school, the ambulance calls to a local fire district would increase by 120 to 150 a year, according to recent testimony.

Maxxam Partners LLC is seeking a special-use permit from the Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals to convert the former Glenwood School for Boys, at 41W400 Silver Glen Road, into a 120-bed private pay, luxury treatment center.

At the continued hearing, Robert Handley, board president of the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District, said he based his estimate by comparing similar facilities in other areas.

“We are out-of-quarters for at least three hours from the time of dispatch to time of arrival” at the hospital, Handley said. “We can’t just drop them [patients] off and say, ‘Goodbye.’ There is a transfer of patient care.”

In 2015, the fire district had 896 calls for emergency medical service and 489 calls for fire service.

Handley said one ambulance down for three hours would strain the district’s ability to serve other residents and the district would have to rely on other departments, which would charge out-of-district fees. The additional calls also cause added wear and tear on the ambulances.

“And presumably the response time would be increased.” Handley said. “They would have to wait for an ambulance. It has a ripple effect.”

thanks Dan

Tags: , ,