Antioch fire district to seek new tax hike through referendum in June

  • The First Fire Protection District of Antioch Township once again will be asking residents to approve a tax hike.

    The First Fire Protection District of Antioch Township once again will be asking residents to approve a tax hike. Daily Herald file photo, 2016

 
 
Updated 2/11/2022 7:51 PM

Despite voters' rejection of a tax hike in 2020, Antioch fire officials announced they would try again by placing a referendum question on the June 28 primary ballot. And if that fails, they'll try again in the fall.

First Fire Protection District of Antioch Township officials are seeking to generate an additional $2 million yearly. If approved, the money would go toward what officials say are badly needed building repairs and salary increases for paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

 

If voters approve, the annual tax bill for a home valued at $200,000 would increase by $167.

"It's not something we want to do -- it's something we absolutely have to do," Fire Chief Jon Cokefair said. "Fire Station One is in extremely bad shape, and additional repairs are needed at stations Two and Three. Things are rough, and it's not going to get any better without fixing it."

Cokefair said of the three buildings, Station One at 835 Holbeck Drive is the worst. It floods regularly, which leads to sewage backups in the basement, and the three-story training tower is pulling away from the main building, requiring straps to hold it all together.

Cokefair said 32 employees left in 2021 to pursue better-paying positions at other fire departments. He said starting hourly wages are $15 for EMTs and $15.50 for paramedics.

And all the while, there are more and more calls for services. Cokefair said last year the department fielded just fewer than 3,600 calls, a record and part of a yearslong trend of increased call volumes.

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Cokefair said as the weather gets better, the department will host information sessions at the station about the tax increase. He said anyone with questions can call him at (847) 395-5511.

According to the results from 2020, 1,941 votes, or 52%, went against the measure with 1,767 votes supporting it.

"If it fails this time, I'll be right back out here in November asking for another levy increase," Cokefair said. "It's reached the point where we need additional funding to stay in business."

The fire protection district covers 35 square miles of the village and unincorporated areas.

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