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updated: 3/10/2011 6:00 PM

St. Charles: Fire district owes city $450,000

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More evidence of how sour the relationship has become between the city of St. Charles and the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District arose Thursday with a threat of legal action against the district if it doesn't cough up money it owes the city.

The letter to the district from the city's attorney, Gerald Gorski, says the district still hasn't made the final payment on the contract the district has with the city for fire and ambulance service. A total of $450,000 was due Feb. 1. The letter indicates the city is prepared for "seeking any remedy available to the city under the agreement." However, no interruption in fire or ambulance service will occur while the city seeks to collect the money.

The city's contract with the district runs through April 30. After that date, the fire district's new fire department will take over the services. But city officials have repeatedly stated they believe the district is making a mistake and the finances just don't add up.

FRCFRD attorney Ken Shepro said the district has both the money and the check for the city.

"We can go to the bank and fill up a suitcase with it if they want to," Shepro said. "I'm not sure why they (sent the letter)."

The delay in payment comes because the fire district wants one more meeting with city staff and Mayor Don DeWitte to discuss a smooth transition of services. As of yet, the meeting has not been set. Part of that may be because there's at least one more argument to be had between the two taxing bodies.

Fire district trustees believe they have at least some ownership right to a water tanker truck the city's fire department uses. Shepro said he believes the tanker was partially purchased with fire district funds and the city has no use for such apparatus because fire hydrants are plentiful in the city limits.

"So far, they've basically said, 'Sorry, we're mad so you're not getting it,' " Shepro said. "But we're not intending to withhold any portion of the payment based on our feelings about that."

Shepro said he's not sure why the $450,000 check wasn't delivered Feb. 1 or what past practice has been with the timing of payments. However, the district is ready to hand-deliver the check whenever the city wants, Shepro said.

"We're basically ready to meet at the drop of a hat," he said.

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