Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

The Leyden Fire Protection District has a referendum on the March 20 primary ballot. The district is seeking support for a $1.5 million bond issue, which would be used to purchase a new ladder truck and ambulance, said Fire Chief Kory Ryan and board President Randy Olinski.  If it is approved, fire district residents can expect an increase on their property tax bills of nearly $2.50 more a month or $30 more a year.

The district is looking to replace a 1996 fire truck and 2013 ambulance, both of which have outlived their life expectancy, and repair and maintenance costs are more expensive. 

Officials said the bond, which would take effect in 2019 and stretch over the next 10 years, is enough to cover the expenses of the two vehicles. The estimated cost for a ladder truck is $1 million, and an ambulance could range between $200,000 to $300,000.

“We just can’t do it,” Olinski said. “With the cost of health insurance, pensions … the economy took a dive. We live on property tax money. We live on sales tax money. We’re not a municipality. There is no mayor that says, ‘I’m only going to give you $1 million to spend. Live with it.’ We are self-sufficient — by taxes only.”

“Unfortunately, with tax rate caps and property values [and] equal assessor’s rates dropping, we’ve gotten less and less money since 2006,” Ryan added.

While the district is responsible for protecting those in the unincorporated area of the township, it is also a part of MABAS Division 20, meaning it provides mutual aid to about 15 surrounding communities such as Bellwood, Melrose Park, Rosemont, Schiller Park and Westchester.