DuPage County to vote on plan to increase funding for fire protection district
DuPage County Board members are being asked to sign off on a plan to establish a special service area so hundreds of homes near Downers Grove can continue receiving fire protection from Westmont.
The village of Westmont provides emergency response and fire services to the North Westmont Fire Protection District, which doesn't have a fire station, equipment or personnel. That's because North Westmont is a "paper district" that collects property taxes from the owners of 561 parcels and uses the money to pay Westmont to provide services.
In a letter dated March 1, Westmont Village Manager Stephen May explained to county board Chairman Dan Cronin that the fire protection district has a shortfall of roughly $60,000 every year. As a result, May said, municipal residents have been subsidizing the service costs of the district's nearly 2,000 residents.
To address the funding shortfall, a special service area for the district could be created that would include a five-year phase-in of a new property tax rate. More than 60 percent of the residents living in the district support the proposal, according to a survey.
"This SSA will create a fair and financially sustainable model which will ensure continued service delivery for district residents," May wrote in the March 1 letter.
Under the proposal, the district residents would never be asked to pay more than what Westmont's municipal residents pay for fire protection and ambulance services, according to May.
But because the district is in unincorporated DuPage, the county board must authorize the creation of a special service area. The proposed area is bordered by Westmont to the east and south, Downers Grove to the west and Oak Brook to the north.
County board members aren't expected to oppose the plan.
In 2013, a state law change gave DuPage the power to eliminate the North Westmont Fire Protection District and 12 local government entities. The county, however, never took any formal steps to disband the district.