Endorsement: Yes on Antioch fire district merger
Antioch residents will be asked whether the village should join the First Fire Protection District of Antioch Township and officially pay for fire and ambulance services. The referendum is the latest and, one can hope, final step in the long fallout from a sexual harassment, drug- and alcohol-use and theft scandal that rocked the Antioch Rescue Squad starting in 2012 and forced it to dissolve in January this year.
At one time, Antioch had to contract out for ambulance service on top of its own fire service, until Antioch and Antioch Township residents approved a tax increase last year to pay for ambulance service. Now the First Fire Protection District and the village of Antioch work together to provide service to both Antioch Township and the village -- using the same facilities and equipment.
The village pays for its residents' share from its general fund, which takes away from day-to-day operations. The goal is to put fire and ambulance service for both the township and village all under the purview of the First Fire Protection District.
If approved, village taxpayers would see a new line item on property tax bills from the fire district, while fire and ambulance services would no longer be factored into the village's property tax levy.
Really, it's almost a technicality, except that it is likely to cost village homeowners a little more in taxes. How much exactly is unclear and that's a problem. One village trustee puts it at $50 to $90 a year for the average homeowner.
Despite that uncertainty, it's reasonable to want to consolidate and get village and township fire and ambulance service all under one modern organization while the village spends its tax dollars the way they were meant to be spent. We recommend a yes vote.