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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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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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