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updated: 6/18/2013 5:34 PM

Fire district makes new proposal to Barrington

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The Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District is proposing a new model for continued cooperation with the Barrington Fire Department, rather than breaking off their contractual relationship completely at the end of the year.

Under the proposal, the fire district would lease 18 firefighters from the village of Barrington for two years.

These firefighters -- roughly half the amount the district wishes to employ -- would work for the district's new chief and alongside other firefighters contracted from a private firm.

The benefit to the district, according to board President Tom Rowan, is that the experience and expertise of today's workforce would not be lost.

"One of the appeals is we'd already know we have staff we're familiar with and who know the area."

The appeal to the village, he hopes, is that this agreement would have the district pay the full costs of these employees -- salaries, insurance and pension benefits.

Barrington Village President Karen Darch recently said that one of the financial pressures the village is feeling from the current contract with the district is that Barrington must pay the long-term pension and disability costs for a workforce much larger than it needs itself.

The district covers a 48-square-mile area just outside Barrington which includes portions of Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Inverness and unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

Though a separate tax body, the district has always provided fire and paramedic services to its constituents by contracting for staff from Barrington.

Because the district wants to increase its staffing levels but the village doesn't, plans have been in progress to end their contractual relationship on Jan. 1. The district's separation plans have gone as far as opening bids for service from five private firefighter-paramedic firms.

But the new proposal -- soon to be communicated to the village in the form of a letter -- envisions an alternative.

Rowan said such an arrangement should provide cost savings for Barrington while combining greater autonomy with continued staff expertise for the district.

District staff had not yet drafted their letter to Barrington officials Tuesday. Darch and Barrington Village Manager Jeff Lawler could not be immediately reached for comment.

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