Press Release: Homer Township Fire District

With the continuing battle in Springfield for a state budget, and the continuing need for true reform in the State of Illinois, it is increasingly difficult for any local property tax payer to understand where their money goes and how it is spent. Most importantly, is it spent wisely and efficiently by the local taxing bodies? We at the Homer Township Fire Protection District use one sole determination for our annual levy request: public safety as a top priority. The Board of Trustees and the Fire District is continuously faced with numerous unfunded mandates by the State of Illinois and the federal government. Fulfilling those requirements requires the District to look at all sources of funding. These unfunded mandates include 10-year replacement cycles for PPE/Gear ($1,950 per set), SCBA Gear ($5,000 each), Stretchers ($10,000 each) and Cardiac Monitors ($31,000 each). Additionally, the District is mandated by the State to perform annual hose, ladder, sprinkler, and alarm testing. In order to meet these increasing large mountains of unfunded mandates, the District and Trustees must look at all revenue sources to ensure that we provide emergency services to the citizens of our District, while also meeting the strict requirement of the Property Tax Extension Law Limit. Every year, the District is limited to the CPI for its increase in tax revenue, recently this limit was 0.8% over the previous year. This is why the Trustees believe that continued smart commercial growth in the District will enable residential taxpayers to see an easing of their burden in the years moving forward. Understanding this, the District has wisely submitted applications for grant funding, receiving over $238,400 that can offset expenses to the taxpayers. One of our recent grant applications gave us a much needed ATV Gator to use for emergency forest preserve rescue and use at the numerous festivals held in Homer Township for EMS services. While recently submitting grant applications for a replacement of our 1995 era water tanker, which is so important to our rural and large acreage properties, and much needed updates and modernization to our radio/communication equipment. If we are successful, this is further evidence of easing the tax burden on our citizens. Further, the firefighter’s union has assisted the District with substantial savings in manpower costs in the past two contracts totaling nearly $1,000,000. We came to this multi-year agreement to move the District forward, as well as work as a team. The District and Trustees would also congratulate the firefighters on their recent donation of $3,300 in education funds toward a vital $12,000 emergency cutter and coming together to fund an $8,000 thermal imaging camera. These donations are safety priority one for the firefighters and for the citizens of our District they assist every day. We congratulate the Local 4223 for their efforts and their dedication to the citizens of our District and to the forward progress of Homer Township FPD. Realizing the need for extensive fleet and expense review, the Trustees approved a District maintenance review program to downsize its fleet, eliminating a reserve ambulance, a ladder truck, and three service vehicles. Thus reducing maintenance and insurance costs incurred by the District. We also established a reduced rate vehicle maintenance program with Frankfort FPD, allowing us substantial savings and much improved reliability. A long unused piece of property owned by the District since the early 1980s has gone on sale at market price at the Boards recommendation. We have also outsourced our ambulance billing, reducing administrative overhead at the District and increasing revenue for the District from out of District individuals using our services. Lastly, we were able to also reduce utility costs substantially by doing a full review and changing suppliers. We have done all of this with the clear realization that our citizens, our property taxpayers, expect a fire district that provides fire protection, EMS, and fire prevention services 365 24/7. The Board of Trustees and the men and women of the Homer Township Fire Protection District hope that we have met your goals and will continue to do so in a manner that respects the taxpayer, while also protecting the citizen when they are at their most vulnerable. Paul Anderson, Board President Mark Lobes, Board Secretary Ken Fijan, Board Trustee

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