Elk Grove Village setting up new taxing districts for fire service in unincorporated areas

Following the lead of Mount Prospect, Elk Grove Village is taking steps to establish two more special service areas that would tax unincorporated residents if and when the Elk Grove Rural Fire Protection District is dissolved.

Elk Grove Village's board this week approved a set of ordinances that would establish the two new taxing districts. In August, the Mount Prospect board approved a similar ordinance setting up the first special service area.

The three-pronged approach would provide fire and emergency medical services to some 3,500 residents — including those who live in 57 single-family homes and four mobile home parks — and several industrial and commercial properties in a portion of unincorporated Elk Grove Township. An intergovernmental agreement inked by Mount Prospect, Elk Grove Village and Des Plaines nearly a year ago calls for their municipal fire departments to service the area, the three special taxing districts to be set up to fund the towns' costs, and for the eventual wind-down of the fire protection district.

But the fire district hasn't signed off on the deal. And residents within the boundaries of the proposed districts can object through a formal petition process within 60 days of a scheduled Dec. 13 public hearing at Elk Grove's village hall.

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

The arrangement would amount to a 5.27% tax levy increase for property owners, comparing what they pay the fire district now to what they would pay in the special service areas, according to an analysis by the Mount Prospect village staff.

Village officials say the fire district has been operating with a structural deficit for years and its reserves are being depleted; it collects $800,000 in property taxes annually but has expenses of $1.8 million. The district's tax base has shrunk amid increasing annexations by the surrounding municipalities.

The special service areas would replace the district's tax levy and provide a minimum funding source of $1 million annually.

Fire district officials didn't respond to a request for comment Friday, but they previously have resisted calls to dissolve and characterized the proposed deal as unfair.

The district has served the unincorporated areas since 1979 under a contract with American Fire and Rescue Services Corp.

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