Voters to choose between Elburn, Fox River fire districts
Whether some Campton Hills-area residents should leave one fire protection district and join another depends on their views on a couple of things.
Which district can provide faster service? Which one can provide it cheaper? And should a fire district borrow money to build fire stations and buy equipment, or should it save up for several years to do so?
Voters in a portion of Campton Hills, Wasco and unincorporated areas are being asked whether they want to leave the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District and join the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District instead.
The area in question is bounded roughly by Campton Hills, La Fox, Burlington, Empire, Silver Glen and Swanberg roads.
Fox River Fire/Rescue used to be called the St. Charles and Countryside Fire Protection District, and until 2011 it merely contracted with the St. Charles Fire Department to provide service. Then it decided to open its own stations.
The Fox River district is conducting a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Station 1, 40W361 Route 64, to discuss the referendum. Elburn district officials have been invited, and Elburn Chief Kelly Callaghan said he plans to attend.
Officials from the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District told a Kane County judge this summer that they can serve the area faster. (Because the referendum is by voter petition and not by a government board, a judge's approval was needed to get it on the ballot.) Emergency 911 calls for the neighborhood now go to KaneComm dispatch center, which transfers them to the TriCom dispatch center, which handles Elburn fire calls. If the neighborhood joins Fox River, the calls will stay with KaneComm. Fox River district officials say that could save up to 90 seconds on a call for service.
They also say they have a fire station closer to the neighborhood. Fox River Fire Station 1, on Route 64 in Wasco, is on the edge of the two districts. The district also plans to build a third station, at Bolcum and Crane roads. Fox River Station 2 is off Route 25 near South Elgin.
Callaghan noted that when the petition to disconnect was filed with the court July 17, it didn't take into account that Elburn planned to open a third fire station in Lily Lake. It did so Oct. 1, renting space in a commercial building on Wooley Road near Route 47. The Elburn district is also building a new Station 1 on Route 38, replacing the one a mile north.
Fox River charged 26.6 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation for property taxes collected in 2014, according to tax reports from the Kane County clerk's office. Elburn charged 78.6 cents.
Fox River contracts with a private company to provide personnel. The district does not provide pension or other benefits. The Elburn district hires its own workers, and provides pension and other benefits.
At the end of its 2014 fiscal year, the Fox River district had outstanding debt of almost $4.2 million. Of that, $2.65 million is for a mortgage taken out to buy land and build Station 2. The numbers are from its certified annual financial report, found on the state comptroller's website.
The latest CAFR for Elburn is for the 2013 fiscal year. It showed the district had no debt, as of April 30, 2013.