Fox/Countryside fire district president resigns amid tough finances

As the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District marches toward another try at a tax increase, James Gaffney has resigned as president of the district's board of trustees.

Gaffney confirmed Friday he resigned as president of the fire district earlier this week. He is also a member of the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board, a role that's eating up more and more of his time. The school district is in discussions about closing as many as three schools, redrawing attendance boundaries and then starting a search for a new superintendent.

"I knew the school issues would be difficult, but I think they've proven at this point to be really very difficult," Gaffney said. "We're going to be jumping from one kettle right into the next. I just felt like I had to take a step backward."

Gaffney will remain on the board but play a lesser role in several big decisions the district will make in the next few months.

Fire district officials are picking through the remains of a failed tax hike request by referendum in April. The move would have increased the taxes paid to the fire district by the owner of a $100,000 home by $48 a year. But that increase would have been phased in over five years. Voters rejected the request by about a 3-to-1 margin.

In that referendum quest, district officials emphasized the positives of what they'd use the money for: staff raises, equipment upgrades and the opening of a third firehouse.

As trustees prepare to take a second shot at a tax increase, the atmosphere surrounding the question is looking more dire. The finances for the district appear to be reaching a crisis stage. District trustees are set to discuss the possible future discontinuation of ambulance and emergency medical services.

Gaffney deferred questions about the referendum and state of the fire district to Trustee John Gamboa, who was not immediately available for comment Friday. Trustees will elect a new president and discuss the referendum and ambulance service at a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, at fire state No. 3, 34W500 Carl Lee Road, near St. Charles.

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