Mount Prospect moving ahead with plan to provide emergency services in Elk Grove Township

From Mount Prospect's vantage point, the village is coming to the rescue of the financially failing Elk Grove Rural Fire Protection District.

Fire district leaders, on the other hand, don't believe it needs saving and are resisting efforts that would lead to its eventual demise.

The Mount Prospect village board recently approved an ordinance creating the Elk Grove Township Fire and Emergency Medical Assistance Special Service Area.

The measure establishes a new taxing district funding a three-pronged effort through which Mount Prospect, Des Plaines and Elk Grove Village would provide fire and emergency medical services to more than 3,400 residents and several industrial and commercial properties in a portion of unincorporated Elk Grove Township.

Mount Prospect Village Manager Michael Cassady has maintained that the rural fire district's finances have been operating in a structural deficit for several years, with its capped tax levy unable to meet expenses for its service contract with American Fire and Rescue Services Corp.

The special service areas would replace the fire district's tax levy and provide a minimum funding source of $1 million annually. Mount Prospect created its special service area on Aug. 16. The other two are expected to be established by Elk Grove Village in September.

Mount Prospect, Elk Grove and Des Plaines have signed an agreement calling for the fire district to go to referendum to dissolve and sell its assets. However, the district has not signed off on the deal.

Cassady said Mount Prospect has requested a meeting with the fire district board, which as of last week gave the village a proposal for a different agreement that would maintain the district.

"They have not been able to give us a plan of how they're going to continue to exist," Cassady said. "We believe they have zero cash flow right now, other than what they've had in their reserves, which we believe to be pretty depleted."

Cassady said the district seems to be counting on the municipalities to bridge the roughly $1 million gap between revenues and expenses.

Cassady said Cook County also must approve the creation of the special service areas.

Calls to the rural fire district have not yet been returned.

But in the past, fire district officials have taken issue with Mount Prospect's cost-benefit analysis and accused the village of trying to force an agreement on them.

The frustration has cut both ways. "Hopefully they take seriously our request to meet with them," Cassady said. "But thus far, they have not shown themselves to be willing to have those conversations."

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