Endorsement: Yes to Grayslake fire district tax request

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 10/16/2014 8:05 PM

It's been six years since voters approved a tax rate increase for the Grayslake Fire Protection District to build a new fire station, add staff and buy equipment. The move was supposed to create a firm financial footing. However, when home values fell, the district's decision to freeze the higher tax rate provided no flexibility for it to adjust. It meant a savings for taxpayers, but resulted in a nearly 20 percent drop in the district's major revenue source. At the same time, costs have grown, equipment has aged and emergency call volume has risen steadily. So, the district returns to voters Nov. 4 with a proposal for a tax rate hike that would allow it to collect a total levy of nearly $6.6 million. The cost would be another $53.33 for the first year on a home valued at $100,000, officials say. That levy amount is roughly what the district would have collected had property values not fallen. Fire Chief John Christian said the district has cut costs, including delaying replacing old vehicles and augmenting staffing with less-expensive part-time and contract help. Without the increase, the district may have to bill residents for a portion of ambulance calls and reduce hours when some stations are staffed, likely affecting response times. Public safety is paramount, and is best served with the new funds. We recommend a "Yes" vote.

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