Roselle Fire Protection District seeking tax hike

 
 
Published4/5/2009 12:04 AM

Editor's note: The following is a corrected reprint of a story that ran last week that inadvertently contained erroneous information.

The Roselle Fire Protection District will ask residents for a property tax increase on April 7 to meet its financial obligation to the Roselle Fire Department, officials say.

 

The department provides fire protection and emergency services to residents of unincorporated areas near the village because the fire district doesn't own any equipment or buildings to provide such services.

Currently, the owner of a $300,000 home in the DuPage County portion of the district pays about $250 annually to the district, while the owner of a home of the same value in Cook County pays $75.

The tax increase, if approved, would be phased in over a four-year period.

In the DuPage portion of the district, taxes this year would double for the owner of a $300,000 home. After the four-year phase-in, the total taxes owed to the fire district for that home would be about $600.

In Cook County, the taxes would similarly double in the first year to $150, and end up at about $179 once the new taxes are phased in.

District officials say the increase is crucial to raise the money it owes the Roselle Fire Department.

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Currently, the district is required to pay about 17.2 percent of the fire department's roughly $3.1 million budget, or about $540,000. This year, officials said, the district is projected to receive about $410,000 in property tax revenue, leaving it short about $130,000. And if the fire protection district doesn't pay by June 30, the Roselle Fire Department is no longer obligated to respond to emergency calls within the district.

"If this doesn't pass, this is uncharted grounds," said Tommy King, secretary of the Roselle Fire Protection District. "We believe we would have to file in court and let the judge decide, along with the county and the state fire marshal, how to dissolve the district, and that would be horrible. The big thing is response times. Roselle is the perfect fit for us."

Village Administrator Jeff O'Dell agrees the Roselle Fire Department is the most ideal provider of services because of its central location and quality.

"Roselle is the best service they are going to get around," O'Dell said.

But if voters do not approve the tax increase, O'Dell said the agreement makes it clear the responsibility to provide emergency services after June 30 lies completely with the fire protection district.

"That responsibility is theirs," he said. "How they do that - whether they contract with another district or a paramedic firm - they're going to have to figure that out."

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