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Local Election

Fire district hopes voters will approve referendum

16.82-cent tax hike would replace aging equipment, hire more staff

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – Officials at the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District are hoping voters will approve their latest referendum request for a nearly 17-cent tax increase April 2.

The problem is, voters might think the ballot question is asking if they want their taxes to go up by 63 percent – which is not correct, said Kenneth Shepro, the fire district’s attorney.

“It’s worded that way because of the statute,” Shepro said. “We want to increase the fire district’s portion of your levy, which is about 5 percent or less of the taxes that you pay. It’s not a 63 percent increase in your tax bill.”

The referendum asks to increase the rate to 43.52 cents per $100 equalized assessed valuation from the fire district’s current tax rate of 26.7 cents, an increase of 16.82 cents.

A single family house with a fair market value of $100,000 would have an additional $56 in taxes to pay, if it passes, officials said.

The district’s last request for a 16-cent increase failed in November by 32 votes, Fire District Board President Bob Handley said, so there is great hope that this request will pass.

“I think if the people who supported us in the past come out this time – 4,000 people voted yes in the last election – if those people would show up, that would be remarkable,” Handley said.

The increase would bring in about $1.5 million in additional revenue, which the district needs, Shepro said.

“Our fleet continues to deteriorate and we continue to lose people. We need more money to reinstate what we had ... to restore the service levels we had a year ago," Shepro said.

Fire Chief John Nixon said the department has an ambulance that has more than 100,000 miles on it and a fire engine built in 1988 and both need to be replaced.

Handley said another problem is the part-time pay for firefighters is $13.50 per hour.

“They can go anywhere and get more than that,” Handley said.

The district areas of St. Charles and Campton townships and the villages of Campton Hills and Wayne.

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