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updated: 1/9/2013 11:18 AM

St. Charles, fire district settle lawsuit

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In the ongoing hate-hate relationship between St. Charles and the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District the two taxing bodies agreed Tuesday to settle at least some of their differences.

St. Charles aldermen unanimously approved a settlement agreement this week that will see the city receive $18,750 from the fire district in trade for releasing the district from any future legal claims relating to an agreement dating back to October 2010.

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That agreement involves a contract for fire protection services for a short period of time just before the fire district broke off as an independent emergency services provider in early 2011. The city sued the fire district and argued the district violated the contract by not paying the city the remaining $37,500 it owed the city for services provided.

The settlement marks an end to at least the legal malaise between the two bodies.

The bad blood began with the decision made by fire district trustees to end a long-standing contract with St. Charles for fire protection and leave the Tri-City Ambulance Association. Those decisions left St. Charles with a $2.2 million budget hole and fueled a loss of revenue for the ambulance association as well. Trustees justified the move as both a money saver for the fire district and choice to improve emergency services in its coverage area.

A time for further reconciliation could be on the horizon as well. St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte and former Fire Chief Pat Mullen were vocal detractors of the fire district's decision to branch out on its own. DeWitte is not seeking re-election, and Mullen recently retired.

Taxpayers to the fire district also successfully placed a referendum on the November ballot calling for the direct election of fire district trustees for the first time in the history of the organization. More than 76 percent of voters in November said they wanted the ability to elect trustees. All the trustees, who were behind the move to independence, are up for election in April. The district has until Jan. 31 to file a final list of candidates with the county clerk's office.

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