Posts Tagged Fox River & Countryside FPD wants tax increase

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.

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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

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

Excerpts from the

About 60 people packed the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District meeting Monday to state their concerns with a staffing plan they said would result in fewer full-time firefighters and possibly longer response times.

Paul Ross, formerly a captain on the department, chastised the board for considering such a plan and said firefighters were concerned about losing medical coverage, sick and vacation days, retirement benefits and seniority.

“As I began to see the shortcomings in his [Fire Chief Carl DeLeo] proposed plan, I offered suggestions to try to mitigate the concerns that I, and other officers, had, as well as serious safety issues with regards to potential staffing and future response capabilities, … Make no mistake, you are about to lay off 18-plus employees who have families to support,” Ross said.

Ross said during his last several years with the district, his duties included hiring all part-time staff to supplement the full-time members. “The department has a 75 percent turnover rate for part time staff and today, after employing 50-plus part-time members, we have nine that are still with the department,” Ross said.

District resident Julie Riffle of Campton Hills criticized the board for suggesting to pay firefighters “less than someone working at McDonald’s.”

Board President Bob Handley said the part-time staffing model was necessary because the district had to cut costs by $200,000 to $300,000, and the staffing model proposed for the Fox River district is the same one used by Pingree Grove, McHenry, Evergreen Park and McHenry.

“This model is not going to leave the distrcit any less safe,” Handley said.

thanks Dan

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Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District news

Excerpts from

The Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District barely mustered a quorum Monday night, with three trustees in attendance, to make the decision not to hold a March referendum.

The trustees terminated a contract with the district’s fire and ambulance service provider, Public Safety Systems, Inc. Fire Chief Carl DeLeo and the trustees confirmed the district will convert to a part-time fire and ambulance staff. A similar operating model exists in other nearby departments like Pingree Grove and Huntley. DeLeo said the fire district can save up to $300,000 a year with the change. If the savings are true, trustees said they may forgo their next shot at putting a tax increase question on the ballot next November.

Trustees and Ken Shepro, the district’s attorney, debated a resolution opposing the pending drug and alcohol treatment center that wants to be at the former Glenwood School property just outside of Campton Hills. Shepro told trustees he expects the facility will generate “a couple hundred ambulance calls” a year. That would be a burden not anticipated for the district’s aging equipment. Jim Gaffney, who resigned as president of the district in October, said the calls from the new treatment center would fund the purchase of a new ambulance if the emergency call volume hit Shepro’s expectations.

Trustees said they planned to attend the public hearing on the treatment center with the Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals later Monday night.

thanks Dan

Click the link for a reference to many previous posts on budget and staffing issues for the Fox River & Countryside FPD

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Fox River & Countryside FPD wants tax increase (more)

Excerpts from the

Another failed tax increase request would be the worst outcome from efforts to maintain the financial solvency of the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District. So to avoid that, district trustees may not ask voters for a tax increase at all. Trustees met with the district’s fire and ambulance service provider, Maryland-based Public Safety Systems Inc., to find a way to cut costs.

“Everybody would love to do the referendum, but it was 3-to-1 against it last time,” said district President Bob Handley. “We know the chance of success is slim. Like any organization, our biggest line item is personnel. So we’re going to look at staffing, but we’ve got to keep the safety of the guys in mind.”

A month ago, trustees introduced the idea of cutting ambulance service. But fire calls represent less than 20 percent of the district’s workload. That makes a change to staffing far more likely, said Ken Shepro, the fire district’s attorney. One option that may make sense is staffing engines and ambulances entirely with a part-time staff. Shepro said several other local departments, including Pingree Grove, use that model and more may be headed that way.

The viability of that model for the district, and its ability to at least defer a tax increase request will be key aspects trustees will weigh in the decision for if and when to hold a referendum. Aside from personnel, the district has some major capital replacement costs looming, including the replacement of a 30-year-old fire engine.

District trustees have until Dec. 28 to put a tax increase question on the March ballot. They will meet Dec. 14 to make a decision.

If trustees don’t put a question on the ballot in March, Shepro said, it’s unlikely voters would see a tax increase question until 2017 at the earliest. Conventional wisdom says most taxing districts should avoid tax increase questions when presidential races are on the ballot. Those elections tend to have higher voter turnouts with more people voting no on tax increases regardless of how much they know about the ballot question.

thanks Dennis

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Fox River & Countryside FPD wants tax increase (more)

Excerpts from the

The difference between the tax increase Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District trustees can put in place on their own, and the tax increase only voters can give them, boils down to survival. Trustees tentatively locked in one increase Monday night. The big request may come as soon as next month.

Trustees got their first look at the new tax levy plan Monday. That levy goes after the maximum tax increase allowed under tax cap law. It comes down to a 1.67 percent increase over the current levy. It will raise the property tax bill of a $300,000 home in the district by about $4, assuming no change in the value of that home next year. The increase would net about $40,000 in new income for the district, though that may not be enough for the district to survive.

The levy will earn a total of about $2.52 million, which represents 94 percent of the district’s income. The budgeted expenditures for the current year are about $3.5 million. Coming into the year, the district had a reserve fund of only $48,000. Trustees sold off a parcel of rental property for a one-time boost of the reserve fund. It now stands at about $1.7 million. With aging equipment, that piggy bank won’t stay full for long.

As a result, new district President Bob Handley urged fellow trustees to decide in November if the district will ask voters for a tax increase. It’s most recent request, which came just this past April, failed by a 3-to-1 margin. Trustees have not yet decided how much money to ask for or what format the tax increase would take. The April question would have phased-in a tax increase over five years. The vote next month seems to be a mere formality.

Trustees have already begun very early discussions about what to do if another tax increase request fails. There are only two options on the table.

Handley broke it down into a succinct scenario: “Do we dissolve, or do we hobble along and just provide fire service?”

In the first scenario, the district would cease to exist. Fire and ambulance service would then, most likely, be provided by a neighboring fire district or department, all of which have higher tax rates than the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District. In the second scenario, the district would still exist. It would only offer fire service and advanced life support via the fire engine crew. However, it would not be able to transport any patients to the hospital. That service would have to come from outside the district.

Trustees will discuss the details of how that setup could work, vote on whether to ask voters for a tax increase and lock in the tax levy increase for next year at their next meeting on Nov. 23.

thanks Dan

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Fox River & Countryside FPD wants tax increase (more)

Excerpts from

The Geneva-based law firm Griffin William LLP is preparing revamped language for the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District’s tax levy increase request. It possibly could be used on the March 15 primary ballot, said Jim Gaffney, the district’s board president.

Board members at their next meeting Monday plan to review and discuss the language legal counsel have prepared if it is ready by that time.  The public meeting will begin no earlier than 7 p.m. Monday in the district’s Station 3, 34W500 Carl Lee Road, St. Charles, or immediately after the conclusion of a 6:30 p.m. special meeting if it runs long.

The district wants to propose that its current tax rate increase over time from about 28 cents – 28 cents per $100 of assessed valuation – to 51 cents, Gaffney said.  The increase still would leave the fire district with one of the lower rates in the area.

Voters defeated the district’s previous rate hike request by a 3-1 margin in April, according to election records. The district has not replaced three full-time firefighter/paramedics who left to work elsewhere, leaving a total of 21 firefighters. Gaffney said the district also has had to move up a reserve fire engine to active status because it is deferring equipment replacement.

An approved referendum would allow the district to buy more equipment and pay its firefighters higher wages since they are paid less relative to other area districts, Gaffney said.

“If we don’t get the referendum passed in March, there’s going to be more cutbacks to the fire department,” Gaffney said.

The district serves 25,000 residents across 38 square miles that include Wayne, Campton Hills and St. Charles Township.

The full series of posts on this topic can be found HERE

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Fox River & Countryside Fire Rescue District … tough decisions (more)

Excerpts from the

Officials of the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District on Thursday met with residents to talk about what the district’s next moves should be in light of a failed referendum … voters defeated the district’s rate hike request by a 3-1 margin in April, election records show.

Some of the roughly 10 residents who attended the Thursday meeting think the district needs to put another referendum question before the voters, but suggested officials change their approach from the previous effort.

“There seemed to be more emphasis on finance, equipment and budget … and not enough focus on the hardship of firefighters who work in the district,” district resident Dave Stohler said. “You have to present it in a more human fashion.”

Some of the district’s firefighter/paramedics left for better paying jobs and have not been replaced, said Bob Handley, the district’s board treasurer.

In an effort to promote the district and another possible referendum, some residents are considering the formation of a Friends of the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District group.

For information about the district, residents can call the district office at 630-584-3473 or email

thanks Dan

Previous posts on this topic are HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Fox River & Countryside Fire Rescue District … tough decisions

Excerpts from the Kane County Chronicle:

Officials at the the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District are bracing for critical budget issues caused by the failure of its April referendum, they said.

Board President Jim Gaffney said the district would ask voters for an increase again, this time on the March 15 primary ballot in 2016. Voters defeated the rate hike request by a 3-1 margin in April, records show.

“If it doesn’t pass next March, then we will not meet payroll at all by 2017-18,” Gaffney said.

The board will consider a tentative 2015-16 budget that reflects reduced spending and deferring equipment replacment at its next meeting, 7 p.m. Monday, June 22, at Fire Station Three, 34W500 Carl Lee Road, St. Charles.

Gaffney said the district could be dissolved, but it would have to be by voter initiative.

“Then the state fire marshal comes in and breaks us up, and re-appropriates us into different districts (Elburn, South Elgin, Bartlett and West Chicago),” Gaffney said.

The Fox River district, which formed four years ago, covers parts of St. Charles, Campton, and Wayne townships in Kane and DuPage counties, and sections of Wayne and Campton Hills.

The unaudited 2015 year-end totals show the fire district had $47,877, while the original 2016 budget projections, without cuts, would put the district nearly $500,000 in deficit.

The district cannot replace staff when they leave for better-paying jobs, and has to defer replacement of fire trucks and ambulances, Gaffney said.

A captain, a lieutenant and three firefighter/paramedics left for better paying jobs, Gaffney said. None will be replaced, saving the district $240,000, Gaffney said. But that is not enough to cover the replacement cost of fire trucks at $450,000 and ambulances at $250,000 each, he said.

The fire district’s attorney, Ken Shepro, said equipment replacement is critical.

Starting Wednesday, the district will operate with its remaining 21 personnel, re-arranged in shifts so all stations are covered, with no layoffs.

thanks Dan

Related posts are HERE and HERE.

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Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District loses bid for tax increase

Excerpts from

Voters in the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District provided little doubt Tuesday about whether they wanted to pay higher taxes for emergency services.

Unofficial results in Kane and DuPage counties on Tuesday showed 854 voters supported the proposed tax rate increase whereas 2,240 did not.

The question asked voters whether the extension limitation for the district should “be increased from the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the consumer-price index over the prior levy year to 12.5 percent for each of the levy years of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.”

Officials with the fire district officials have said the extra funds would be used to increase the wages paid to personnel, among other investments, such as equipment.

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

Previous post is HERE

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