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Our View: One year later, fire district reports effective service

Published: Saturday, June 9, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

It’s been just over a year since the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District stopped paying for services from the city of St. Charles. The decision to split from the city was two-fold: The district was trying to avoid going into bankruptcy and was also trying to improve response times to residents throughout its coverage area, a more than 35-square-mile swath of territory that includes properties in St. Charles, Campton and Wayne townships and stretches from western Kane County into DuPage County.

The district held a town hall meeting this week to update residents on the financials – as well as future goals – of the district. Everything seems to be running smoothly.

There was much uproar when the district initially announced it wasn’t renewing its service contract with the city of St. Charles. The district then went ahead and started to build firehouses, despite residents’ protests and stop-work orders on the new stations.

People voiced their displeasure, and the city of St. Charles has a pending lawsuit claiming the district still owes the city money.

But the most important part of the changeover to us was how residents would be affected.

The district’s chief, Greg Benson, is happy with the level of service the district has been able to provide on its own over the last year, including response times. He stressed, though, that the district wants to keep moving forward and provide an even better service to the communities it serves. That includes continuing to educate the public on fire safety, hosting more CPR classes and being as financially transparent as possible with the community. Many meeting notes, agendas and presentations are available right on the district’s website, www.frcfr.org.

Although the district announced this week that it is operating at a planned loss for the first year, Benson said there is no reason to worry about the district losing money – every estimate made about the district’s financials has been conservative. He said within two years, the district expects to be in the black, while stressing the need to keep a balanced budget and hold operating expenses down.

We applaud how well the district seems to have covered its territory since breaking away from St. Charles last year.

We said last year that service was of the utmost importance in this whole situation, and the district has taken that to heart.

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