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Fire Protection District Questions on Tuesday Ballot

Coal Valley Fire Protection District

As voting continues leading up to election day next Tuesday (4/4) in Illinois, residents of several fire protection districts have some important decisions to make. The districts are asking for small tax increases to help them deal with rising costs.

Coal Valley Fire Chief Dave Dunham says one question on the ballot would help his department make up for the rising cost of providing EMS service.

"The nine full-time staff is almost one million dollars a year in payroll and benefits. And with the decline in the Medicaid and Medicare portions that the state and everybody pays, and the insurance with the negotiated rates, and then the cost of fuel and items to re-stock the ambulances, it's just gone through the roof."

If approved, the increase would raise about 100,000 dollars per year.

Dunham says it might cost 1,000 dollars for an ambulance call but his department will usually only be reimbursed 400 or 500 dollars.

A second question asks for an increase in the tax that funds emergency and rescue services, and together he estimates the two questions would cost Coal Valley residents less than 40 dollars per year.

"And I get it that people are taxed out, I get it, but if we're getting 100 per cent of what we collected for what we billed, for the ambulance, this would not be an issue."

And the alternative is cuts in service and personnel.

Along with Coal Valley, similar tax increase questions are also on the ballot for the Reynolds and Buffalo Prairie fire protection districts.