Despite protests, Mount Prospect annexes 78 acres
Mount Prospect trustees voted Tuesday to annex 78 acres of unincorporated Cook County in three areas along Algonquin Road, a move they say will improve services to businesses there.
But the Elk Grove Township Fire District says the move is bad news, shrinking roughly one-quarter of its tax base and threatening to weaken its service.
"It would be crippling to the fire district," attorney Vladimir Shuliga Jr. said before the vote.
Shuliga, who urged trustees to postpone a decision Tuesday, provided documents showing the move, combined with previous annexations this year and others expected in the future, will reduce the fire district's tax base by about 46 percent. Tuesday's annexation alone removed roughly $27 million in assessed value from the district, he said.
That will result in dramatic staff cuts impairing the ability of the district to respond to its residents and provide mutual aid for neighboring fire departments, Shuliga added.
The plea failed to move village trustees, who believed postponing the vote would only delay the inevitable.
"Whether we defer tonight or not, that (annexation) is going to happen," Trustee Paul Hoefert said. "So I don't really understand where deferring gets us."
In addition to the fire district, Mount Prospect officials heard from property owners in the annexed areas who are unhappy that it could mean a 7 percent increase in their property taxes.
"Basically you're using it as a strong-arm tactic to take over an area and basically tax us at a higher rate," property owner Charles Mueller told trustees. "I don't see any great benefit that would cost us another 7 percent on our taxes."
Village Manager Michael Cassady said one of the main reasons Cook County is pushing municipalities to annex small pockets of unincorporated areas is because the Cook County sheriff's office cannot serve them properly.
"I think the value-added here, big time, is we are going to be able to provide immediate response from our police department," he said. "And, you know what? We have been doing that for years. It is just that the village has been subsidizing those responses."
Hoefert sought to assure property owners they would benefit from the annexation.
"You're going to be in the village of Mount Prospect," he said. "You're going to get more immediate responses. You're going to get more immediate care. You're going to get more immediate services. That's a fact."
But David Kahn, president of Perfection Spring & Stamping, said the additional taxes will hurt business.
"We are fighting China. We are fighting Mexico. And we would like to keep jobs right here in the United States, especially in this area and support other businesses in Mount Prospect," he said.