Rutland Fire District sues to end contract, cites subsidy of neighboring district

The Rutland Dundee Fire Protection District wants a judge to terminate a contract it has to provide fire and ambulance services to about 30 homes in the West Dundee Fire Protection District.

In their lawsuit, Rutland officials argue its residents are unfairly subsidizing the fire and ambulance service by paying three times what the West Dundee residents pay and that the agreement, originally approved in 2004, was last changed by board members who no longer are in office.

"It is so disproportionate, it has become significant," said Bernard Weiler, Rutland attorney.

According to the suit, filed in Kane County, Rutland and the West Dundee fire protection district, signed an agreement in November 2004 to have Rutland provide fire and ambulance services for a yearly cost of $7,500.

The West Dundee Fire Protection District is a group of luxury homes off Frontenac Drive and Boncosky Road just west of Route 31 and is a taxing body that only exists on paper. The district does not own or operate a fire station or equipment, and it does not pay firefighters. Under state law, it may contract for fire and ambulance services.

Tom Gilbert, West Dundee fire district attorney, said Rutland should honor the deal, which runs until April 2020.

"It is the deal they made," Gilbert said, noting the original $7,500-a-year pact has been adjusted for inflation over the years and is now about $12,000. "Our plan is to stick to the agreement."

The agreement has been updated over the years, but Weiler said Rutland has been taxing its residents the maximum under the Property Tax Limitation Act, or tax cap, and Rutland residents are paying a rate effectively three times the amount paid by West Dundee fire district residents.

Also, the suit argues, all of the Rutland fire trustees who signed off on the contract and subsequent changes to it are no longer on the board so the current board is not bound by it.

"We cannot in good conscience extend this contract," Weiler said. "We tried to work this out. (Rutland fire trustees) feel it's absolutely the right thing to do."

If a judge terminates the deal, numerous scenarios could come into play - the two most immediate being the West Dundee fire district may contract with another district for fire services or sign another deal at a higher annual cost with Rutland.

West Dundee fire protection district officials used to contract with the village of West Dundee for fire services in the early 2000s, but when the village asked to increase the contract, they signed the 2004 deal with Rutland.

The two sides are due in court on Aug. 13.

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