Contracts with fire protection districts under consideration

Contracts with fire protection districts under consideration

CHAMPAIGN — The city council this week will consider contracts with fire protection districts in two parts of unincorporated southwest Champaign.

Council approval of the contracts would ensure that hundreds of residents in the Cherry Hills and Rolling Acres subdivisions are covered if they call 911. The issue comes to the council in advance of a March 20 referendum that will ask those residents if they are willing to pay for the extra cost that comes with the city's fire service.

The city council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

Previously, the village of Savoy provided fire service to those residents, but Champaign officials have invoked a decades-old agreement that does not allow Savoy to operate in that area. Champaign officials said they would provide fire service, but at the city's taxing rate.

For Rolling Acres residents, the cost of fire and medical service would more than triple — an extra $90 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home. It would nearly triple for Cherry Hills residents, too — an extra $85 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home there.

Between the two areas, nearly 300 properties will be affected. Those residents will vote on a referendum in the March 20 primary election asking whether they are willing to pay the extra cost.

But if the council approves the contracts Tuesday, they will be in place before voters have a chance to decide, as their current agreements with the village of Savoy are set to expire soon.

If voters were to say "no" to the referendum, the contracts with the fire protection districts would terminate on March 20, 2013. Those residents would pay the city at their current, lower tax rate for the year of fire service they receive.

Meanwhile, city officials would try to sign new contracts with individual residents as opposed to the fire protection districts as a whole, according to a city memo.

"Following the one year anniversary of the defeated referendum, all properties would be charged for the service either as a function of an individual agreement with City or on a per-call basis at a substantially higher rate," according to the memo.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on March 06, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Hard to imagine that the residents would have a problem paying $85 to $90 annually per $100,000 for emergency, and fire protection.  A $300,000 house would cost $22.50 per month, 74 cents a day (less than a can of soda).  Is there more reasons for their reluctance?  Wonder what their home owners insurance companies think about it?