Voters approve Palatine Rural Fire tax hike
Palatine-area voters approved a 0.05 percent tax hike for the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District Tuesday night, a measure voters previously rejected in the spring.
With 19 out of 21 precincts reporting, unofficial election totals show 58.4 percent of voters said they were in favor of increasing property taxes for the district.
The tax increase is expected to raise about $200,000 to pay for district operations.
If the early results hold up, property owners will pay about $50 more in taxes for every $100,000 in equalized assessed value.
Fire Chief Hank Clemmensen said the increase will help with some of the costs of providing rescue services, including equipment, some salaries and incentives for rescue teams.
The first time the district sought the increase, the measure fell short by less than 100 votes.
"I think we just got the word out better this time," Clemmensen said. "This time we reached out a bit more."
He said a letter went to all residents, explaining the tax increase and how it would be used, and friends of the district became more involved in the effort.
In addition, the district made presentations in the community to explain the referendum.
It was the second time in the past 10 years the district has gotten a tax increase approved. In 2005, voters approved an increase in the corporate rate. That referendum took six tries.
"It's difficult times. Nobody wants to pay a tax increase," Clemmensen said. "Nobody likes to go out and ask for money.
"I'm just glad we were able to get it passed tonight," he added.
Now, he said, the district can balance its budget and pay for the services it provides.
Clemmensen noted that the district's equalized assessed value has dropped by 34 percent over the past five years.
Most of that loss, he said, has come out of the district's operating fund.
The district covers 17 square miles, including parts of Inverness and unincorporated Palatine Township.