Endorsement: Yes on Fox River & Countryside fire improvements
Minutes matter in a fire or medical emergency. If the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District referendum does not pass in the November election, first responder response times could double to 15 minutes from an average of about 7½ minutes for the 26,000 residents in the district's 38-square-mile area. That's because there wouldn't be adequate funding to keep both of the fire stations open.
This request is a do-over from the March 20 election, in which the tax increase was rejected by 32 votes.
The district, which includes Campton Hills, South Elgin and Wayne and unincorporated St. Charles and Campton townships, is requesting to increase its property tax rate to 43 cents from 27 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value to fund more personnel and critical equipment replacements and repairs. Homeowners with a home valued at $500,000 would see an increase from about $445 to $715 per year.
The district is currently working under reduced staffing. One station, which has only three responders working each shift, is unable to keep the fire engine and ambulance staffed at the same time.
A failed referendum means the district would have to eliminate part-time firefighter positions, resulting in the closure of one station, increased response times and the potential to negatively impact property insurance rates. We encourage a yes vote on this issue.