Posts Tagged tax referendum fails for Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District

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

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

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

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

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

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.

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

Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

After a request for a property tax hike narrowly failed Tuesday, Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District officials again are faced with determining how to continue operating with what they say is insufficient funding.  This was the fourth time in recent years voters rejected the district’s request for a property tax increase. In addition to being the lowest tax hike requested, unofficial tallies show the measure also failed by the slimmest margin — a 1,943-1,904 vote.

The binding referendum asked for a 60 percent increase in the taxes paid to the fire district to fund equipment replacements, as well as pay raises for emergency personnel. If the measure was approved, the owner of a $100,000 home would have paid an additional $53 per year.

The election results are unofficial until they are canvassed in the coming weeks. With such a razor thin margin, Handley said the district won’t make any decisions until vote totals are verified.

The district has warned residents of its most probable plan of action, which would include cutting up to nine firefighter positions and rotating the closure of one of its two stations every day. Fire board President Bob Handley said Wednesday nothing will be decided until the board has a chance to evaluate all cost-cutting options at its meeting next month.

“(Browning) out a station … is the last thing we want to do because it’s going to increase our response times considerably,” Handley said. “But that’s probably going to be what happens. I don’t know if there are any other alternatives.”

Fire officials for years have been debating how best to serve their 25,000 residents while operating on the lowest tax rate in the area — 27 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. After its last attempt at a tax hike, the district cut several employees and started considering the possibility of outsourcing its services or dissolving, which would require voter approval.

The cash-strapped district is running out of options, Handley said, but he believes residents are starting to catch on to the severity of the issue. Whether the district will try again for a tax hike in November has yet to be determined.

“It’s encouraging that the more we get publicity out there, the more favorable the results become,” he said. “As soon as people hear our message, they understand.”

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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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