A majority of voters one year ago said no to a tax increase for the Pingree Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District. The district is trying again with an identical $8.5 million request to build two new fire stations to replace two existing ones. We recommend the no voters change their minds March 20, believing it to be in their best interests to approve the request, which amounts to an extra $90 for a taxpayer with a $300,000 home.
The station on Reinking Road would remain. Stations to be built would be in Plato Center on Dittman Road near Plato Road, and on Highland Avenue east of Coombs Road near Elgin. Plank Road and Rippburger Road stations would be sold. Both are outdated and the station on Rippburger is unstaffed. Neither was built to house firefighters.
A yes vote would mean a tax increase that's $27 less than projected last year because the service area has grown. The district has 54 firefighters among its three stations to cover 50 square miles among 15,000 residents in Pingree Grove, part of Campton Hills and unincorporated areas.
The overriding issue is the department's ability to keep response times closer to six minutes for a growing population.
That extra $1.74 per week would be money well spent. We recommend a yes vote.