ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – The Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District lost its fifth referendum bid for a tax rate increase by 30 votes, according to unofficial totals March 20 from Kane and DuPage counties.
The request for a 16-cent increase was voted down 2,019 “no” to 1,989 “yes,” according to an unofficial tally.
The increase would have boosted the rate to 43 cents from the current rate of 27 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value, providing about $1 million more per year, officials said.
Kenneth Shepro, the fire district’s attorney, said there were some problems with the Kane portion of the election that officials are trying to address.
“Part of the fire question was missing after the yes and no,” Shepro said.
The missing part stated, “For the 2018 levy year, the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single-family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $52.”
Shepro said everyone who voted was supposed to get a card with the additional information highlighted, but many did not get the printed card.
“It was not universally applied,” Shepro said. “We are getting affidavits from people who did not get the cards. … We are looking at whether the omission of that language from the proposition was fatal to the outcome.”
Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham said there would be no comment from his office on that issue.
Another problem is that Campton Precinct 3 seemed to have more voters than there are houses, Shepro said. Two-thirds of those in that precinct are in the fire district.
“It seems peculiar that so many voted in the smallest part of the district so as to overwhelm the largest part of the district, “Shepro said. “We’re trying to find an explanation for that.”
Shepro said when a person puts his address information into the clerk’s database, it brings up a ballot unique to that individual.
Shepro said it might be possible that people who are not in the fire district mistakenly got a ballot with the referendum on it – and voted no.
“We may have to go parcel by parcel and figure out who got what ballot,” Shepro said. “It’s a tedious process.”
Cunningham said there would be no comment from his office on that, either.
The fire district scheduled a special meeting at 7 p.m. April 5 at Fire Station No. 1, 35W500 Carl Lee Road, St. Charles Township, to discuss what to do next, Shepro said.
Officials had said if they did not get the rate increase, they might have to rotate closing down the two stations. Trustees may decide to do that at this meeting, as well as decide to take action on the referendum results, Shepro said.
“The news is that we are still looking at what our options are,” Shepro said. “We can’t actually do anything about it until after they officially certify the vote. And that will be between April 3 and 10. And after they do that, we have 30 days to file a contest.”