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Palos Fire Protection District Referendum Passes by 72 Votes

After falling short in April of last year, it appears the Palos Fire Protection District will get the property tax increase it was looking for.

Voters in the narrowly passed a referendum Tuesday night that will increase the district's taxing rate and bring in additional revenue for the financially struggling department. 

In a nail biter, 1,886 yes votes, and 1,814 no, according to the Cook County Clerk's Office. That is a difference of less than 2 percent

The district has been operating with a budget deficit of about $350,000 and operates from one of its two stations on most days. Cuts in staffing, aging equipment and a lack of any reserve funds were all offered as reasons why a tax increase was necessary.

Passage of the tax hike means the rate for the district will increase from .557 to .807. In real terms, that equates to $82.50 more in yearly property taxes for every $100,000 of fair market value for your home. That number could be less with homeowner and senior deductions.

The Palos Fire Protection District covers Palos Park and portions of Palos Heights, Orland Park and unincorporated Palos Township. The borders are the Cal-Sag Channel to 135th Street, and 76th Avenue to Will-Cook Road. The district provides both fire and ambulance service to that area. 

"I want to thank the residents for taking an active participation in the process," said Fire Chief Steven Carr. "They cared about it enough to find the facts, and vote based on the facts.”

Carr went on to thank the various municipalities and community groups that invited him to present the issues surrounding the referendum. In April 2011, a similar . 

It is estimated that the increase will bring in an additional $1.9 million to the district each year. 

A large portion of the money will be used to balance the budget deficit, restore cuts in part-time staffing and begin replacing the district's aging fleet of emergency vehicles. 

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While the actual revenue increases won't be seen until November 2013, Carr plans to take quick action in restoring some of the cuts in service that have been made in recent months.

“I will immediately do whatever I can to reinstate services as rapidly as possible in anticipation (of getting) those funds," he said. 

Some of those actions could include opening both stations again and reinstating cut part-time positions.

At last week's board meeting, Board President Kevin McCurrie said the increased revenues have very specific uses. He maintained that firefighter salaries and extra expenses were not the goal of the effort. 

"The next negotiation is in two years and we will again try to maintain salaries and give an increase with regards to the economy and cost of living," McCurrie said.

After the votes were tallied, Carr vowed to maintain open lines of communication with district residents about how the added revenues are being spent. 

“I also promise to continually provide ongoing accountability for the use of these funds," he said. 

At last Tuesday's board meeting he discussed the idea of posting or releasing ongoing quarterly financial statements that detail how the referendum money is being allocated.

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Kris Mortovitz March 21, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Good idea Ray, but they take their rigs so they can drop everything and go to a call. I've seen that happen in Orland while the guys shop. THey had a cart full of groceries in line checking out when a call came in. The checkers just took the cart and set it aside, like it happens a lot. It was kinda cool.
bob busch March 21, 2012 at 02:36 PM
the flip side The entire community won yesterday while basking in the sweet smell of success it is a good time to ponder the future.While the courage and dedication of the first responders was never in question the leadership of the Board leaves a lot to be desired.We should never have been put in this crisis to begin with.For instance why wasn't the aging equipment replaced.Who let things get so far out of hand that we had to close a station? All roads lead to the board members themselves.Do we want these same people to lead the fire district in the future? To quote history " Go you have sat too long"
Bob March 21, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I'm right here, LMK. The hatred was all on your part, not ours, and if you don't think that biased campaign garbage you were sending out wasn't LESS than a half truth, you need to learn some arithmetic. No one attacked and "villainized" the individual firefighters in this case, we just criticized the greed of the union and complicit Board members who put us all, firefighters and community alike, at risk by making salry and benefit increases that we could afford while providing necessary staffing. BTW,if you're inferring that you had a gun pointed at you TWICE in Palos,along with being threatened with a knife and punched in the district, I have a hard time believing you. You're right about the public having spoken, now we have to live with it. Those who voted fro this, however, have a new moral obligation to the rest of us. Since you forced us to pay for this, you have an obligation to ensure that the money is spent in the public interest, and not wasted by irresponsible management and wage increases. You can't just "hit and run" by costinig the average Palos Park taxpayer over $4,000 over the next decade and just walk away. You who voted to bail out this bad management by increasing taxes on all of us now have ownership of this dysfunctinal board's decisions. You OWE us!
Bob March 21, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Bob, there's still an open seat vacant on the board. I'd LOVE to see you get it. Have you given the application to Colleeen Schumann yet?
Bob March 21, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Kris, I believe the point is that when they're on duty there's no way they should be out grocery shopping. For gosh sakes, they have two full days after every shift they work to go shopping, why would they put us at risk by leaving the station to do it during their shift?
Terri March 21, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Great comment Kris. It's not like they are doing their personal shopping anyway. I'm so glad they won the kitchen makeover with a great show of community support. I live in Orland and happily voted for our neighboring community. People are so negative about everything lately but I never dreamed that firefighters could have ardent critics!
bob busch March 21, 2012 at 05:51 PM
I did not know that PFPD won the kitchen.I expect to be repaid ,since i voted often,with a cup of coffee when it is done.
Mark SWH March 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Everybody is going to have their hand out now... here comes the flood gates
jim March 22, 2012 at 11:02 AM
here is the real kicker " bob " who is doing the most anti fire drum beating isnt even a resident of the fire dist! he lives in worth...lets look at how that works. bob you have no care..intrest or business with palos fire so why are you even here you turd
Bob March 22, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I don't know if you're just a liar or an idiot. I live about 4 blocks North of Station 2 and I DO live in the district. If you have a job in the PFD, it's clear we need to toughen the literacy and intelligence requirements!
bob busch March 22, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Slow down Gentlemen Dear Jim I know Bob and he is a friend of mine.I respect him and his opinion He and i obviously do not agree on some things but he is a man of honor and conviction. I also know he is a resident of PFPD. So do all of us a favor and at least know what you are talking about.
Jones March 22, 2012 at 09:39 PM
people that voted "Yes" for this are idiots or they S..t money, they should pay the taxes for those that voted "NO"
Jones March 22, 2012 at 09:43 PM
people that voted "Yes" for this are idiots or they S..t money, they should pay the taxes for those that voted "NO" I can't believe this thing passed, I guess those 72 people are working for PFD now because they sure have money to spread among themselves.
LF March 23, 2012 at 01:28 AM
To LMK, the people have spoken and what were they thinking! To all you residents of Palos who for whatever reason did not think it was important to vote, SHAME ON YOU! Also, LMK, do you think your occupation is the only one who faces challenges, well think again and PLEASE stop your whinning. Chief Carr needs to be scolded as well, 350K deficit, NO reserve fund...Hello! You should be given your walking papers. Instead, you'll be given 1.9 MILLION DOLLARS from the tax payers...All of you must feel like kids in a candy store!
Joe March 23, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Thank you for your support! We will not forget as we have never forgotten the oath we have taken to serve you! For those who have chosen not to support the referendum; please come to a meeting a voice your concerns! Haven't seen more than a dozen of you in 20 years! We must not be doing that bad of a job....
jim kline March 23, 2012 at 02:39 AM
The County Clerk publishes results by precinct in Palos Township. http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/results/Pages/default.aspx The referendum had strong support in Palos 33 (253 YES, 100 NO) and Palos 37 (230 YES, 134 NO). These two precincts tipped the balance. They are the home of Oak Hills retirement village, and Peace Village retirement village. They probably were frightened by the station closings, and that they would lose ambulance transport services. Unlikely they were worried about fires. Jim
jim kline March 23, 2012 at 02:43 AM
That was the reason for closing the Fire Station adjacent to Peace Village....
jim kline March 23, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Palos Township precinct 9, Ishanala subdivision in Palos Heights, had most of its ballots invalidated. There were 198 ballots cast, and only 16 were counted, according to the County Clerk. Same for Palos Pines subdivision in Palos Heights, 259 votes cast, only 110 counted. Curious... Jim
John March 23, 2012 at 02:38 PM
What really surprised me is the lack of consideration to the most important issue and that was the Legislative race. We had a citizen run and he was opposed to the 800 million teachers pension obligation that will increase our property taxes 40% per year. Now that is the most important issue that affects our property values. Every single homeowner in the suburbs would be strapped. Shame on all of you that didn't do the research.
bob busch March 23, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Dear Jim Lets look at the boundaries The district boundaries are as follows: North boundary-The Cal-Sag Channel South boundary-135th Street East boundary-76th Ave West boundary-Will-Cook Road Nobody in Ishnala should have voted to begin with it's outside the district.I am not sure about the Palos Pines. I think they are included.
Bob March 23, 2012 at 03:45 PM
If you're referring to Ricardo Fernandez (R-18th Senate), I hate to say it but if his name was "Rick O'Fern" he well could've won. Too bad he couldn't use his Irish grandfathers surname!
Lisa March 23, 2012 at 10:00 PM
The Ishanala Subdivision is not in the Fire District so that would not have affected this referendum vote.
Lisa March 23, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Classy..... Well educated thought out post here.
Lisa March 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I have also met Bob... He does live in district... He is very opinionated..... But a Man of Honor I think not...... He wouldn't know Honor if it kicked him in the rear.
Lisa March 23, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Yes you are right Bob. Nothing bad ever happens in Palos. There are no Drugs and no Gang activity in this area at all....... and about that Bridge you were going to buy...... Keep dreaming Bob....... or go and ask any police officer or firefighter / Paramedic you see and they can explain reality to you.
Lisa March 23, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Bob at this point you are just swinging wildly in the Dark. You obliviously are wrong in everything you try to do or say.... from the school district to the fire district, don't you think it is time to just stop and go away.
Bob March 25, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Lisa, if I ever met you, you must have failed to impress. Tell me when and where we met, otherwise this claim, as most others you written, are no more prevarications and and fantasies.
Bob March 25, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I'll be happy to step away, Lisa, as soon as people, who, unlike you, care more about the good of the community and fairness to taxpayers rather than the bureaucracy, are put in charge rather than greedy, selfish slugs like you whose only goal is force as much as they can from the community to unfarily take care of their connected "friends". BTW, do you have any thought of moving to Chicago's corrupt 19th ward? You'd fit in PERFECTLY there!
bob busch March 25, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Attack Some of the posts are getting rather personal . Since it was brought up I not only supported the Petition to place the school referendum on the Ballot I got some signatures. I wanted the people to decide, democracy , that issue. The cowardly way it was handled showed no respect for the members of the community. Personally I would have supported the measure but never got the chance Bob would be a logical person to put on the Fire Board because of his education. But we do not vote on that either.
Melinda Moore March 26, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Palos Pines is in the PPFD, not Palos Heights FPD. It would be great if everyone who is concerned about how the tax referendum money is spent would attend board meetings and give their opinions. Dan - Thanks for posting the list of PPFD fire calls - looks like ambulance equipment should be the priority.

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