DANVILLE — Residents and businesses will soon be paying a $2 monthly fee to help fund the fire department, but the new money will only plug a deficit.
The new fee that Danville aldermen approved Tuesday night won't generate enough money to fill two firefighter vacancies or pay for new fire engines, but it will keep the city from looking for additional cuts to balance the budget.
Aldermen had four choices Tuesday night for a new city fee. All four would have plugged the city's budget gap but generated varying degrees of revenue.
On Tuesday night, aldermen added a sunset clause to all four options, which means the $2 fee will end April 30, 2015. In the meantime, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer will create a committee to make long-term decisions about the city's fire department, especially staffing levels and fire stations.
First up Tuesday night was the $300 emergency medical response fee that would have been charged only to city residents on the receiving end of a medical call handled by the fire department. Aldermen overwhelmingly voted that down.
Aldermen then voted down the $5 monthly fire fee — the only option that would have funded the two vacant firefighter positions and put money toward new fire engines.
Aldermen then voted down the third choice, a $3.50 monthly fire fee that would have plugged the budget gap and put some money toward new fire engines.
It was the fourth option — a $2 monthly fire fee — that passed, but only after the mayor voted "yes," breaking a 7-7 tie among aldermen. The new fee will be added to sanitary sewer bills and charged to all properties with rooftops up to 5,000 square feet. An additional $1 will be added for each additional 5,000 square feet of rooftop, with a cap of $30 a month.
The city estimates the fee will generate $291,000 a year.