Bartlett Fire District voters back tax hike, avoid service cuts
Voters appeared to have changed their minds from last year and backed a measure Tuesday allowing the Bartlett Fire Protection District to raise taxes and avoid service cuts.
With 44 of 50 precincts reporting, the referendum had 4,010 "yes" votes, representing 66.2 percent of the unofficial total.
"We're very pleased with what we're seeing so far," Fire Chief Mike Falese said late Tuesday night.
The tax hike is estimated to increase the average homeowner's annual payment to the district to $569 from $469.
A similar measure was voted down by fire district residents in April 2017. Unlike the buildup to that vote, the consequences of another failed request were spelled out in detail last summer before trustees opted to try once more at the polls.
Officials say the number of first responders per shift would have to be cut from 14 to 11, and one of the district's three stations would be closed on a rotating basis throughout the year, officials say.
Because the district's three engines and two ambulances require a specific number of people, the only way to reduce the staff effectively would be to take an engine out of operation as well, Falese said.
One of the biggest misunderstandings about the referendum was some residents' false belief that the district was a department of the village of Bartlett, rather than the independent taxing body it is, Falese said.
In fact, fewer than 6 cents of a property owner's tax dollar goes to the fire district, he said. The proposal would raise that to only 7 cents.