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Article posted: 8/17/2012 4:58 PM

East Dundee looking to help local fire district

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The East Dundee Fire Protection District will ask voters in November for permission to borrow $5.5 million for a new fire station, but it may be able to keep the price down thanks to an assist from the East Dundee village board.

The village board is looking to form a partnership with the fire district that would involve putting some of East Dundee's excess revenues from its tax increment finance districts into offsetting the cost of the new fire station.

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If voters approve the new fire station, the fire district would raise its levy accordingly to pay back the loan over time. The village board would step in to give a set amount of money to the district that would lower the taxpayers' burden of funding the new construction.

For example, if the fire district needed $300,000 to pay for the station one year, the board might offer to pay $100,000, which means the burden on the taxpayers would be $200,000, Village Administrator Bob Skurla said.

Skurla is in the midst of preparing a budget to show how much the village can actually contribute toward the fire station and researching other legalities. The fire district could have as many as 20 years to repay the $5.5 million loan.

"Can we adopt a policy that goes 20 years? Yes," Skurla said. "Can we adopt a dollar amount? I don't know, I need to find out."

East Dundee is prepared to see a windfall in its TIF districts because some of the properties within them were recently reassessed at a higher value.

Last year, the village collected $680,000 from its TIF districts and this year it is expected to collect $1.34 million, Skurla said. That amount is expected for the next nine to 10 years until the largest TIF district expires.

If voters endorse the referendum, the fire district would move out of its current station near village hall and build a new one on three acres on routes 25 and 72 that the village bought and would donate to the district.

At the same time, the cramped police department would expand into the fire district's existing building and begin an upgrade of its own that would include room for state-of-the-art jail cells, processing areas and interview rooms.

Officials say the fire district's proposed location, north of the River Valley Shopping Center, would put it closer to the eastern portions of the district and shorten its response times.

The fire protection district includes all of East Dundee and parts of South Barrington and Barrington Hills.

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