Glen Ellyn trustees plan to increase monthly fire service fees to pay for operational costs and to establish a reserve fund for building projects at the village's two stations.
Trustees expressed initial support Monday night for the higher rates for five categories of property owners. The fee for homeowners would increase from $7.50 to $15 a month. The charge for businesses of less than 20,000 square feet would double to $16 a month.
With the raises, the village expects the new fees would generate about $1.6 million annually for the fire company, an anomaly in the suburb that leaves firefighting to about 60 volunteers who are each paid $1 a year. The company also stands to receive $151,500 this year from two special taxing districts.
The extra revenue would allow the village to set aside nearly $750,000 annually in a fund that could help pay for the possible replacement of the downtown fire station in the next decade and improvements at the Taft Avenue station, village staffers say.
The board could commission a space study into both village-owned buildings later this year and get the findings in 2018. Station No. 1 at Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue is the older one and opened in the 1950s.
Village President Alex Demos called the increases a "proactive" step toward building capital reserves for the company.
Financial planners also have recommended allocating about $400,000 annually for equipment costs. One decision on the horizon later this spring is whether to buy a new ladder truck.
The fees now yield a total of about $803,000 annually for the fire company. Operations alone are expected to cost roughly $700,000 this year.
"There may come a time here in the near future that we need to go from two to three ambulances to appropriately service the needs for the community," Demos said. "We're ill-prepared from a capital standpoint to even house that ambulance."
The village imposed the fees almost three years ago to replace a long-running donation program for the fire company. Only about 20 percent of property owners were contributing to the program.
Initial revenue projections at the time showed the village collecting roughly $70,000 in fees from property owners in an area largely east of I-355 and north of Roosevelt Road. But those owners already pay property taxes to a so-called paper fire protection district that contracts out fire service to the village of Lombard.
Glen Ellyn officials caught the error before sending out the first bills.
The board could vote on the proposed increases as early as March 20. The higher fire service fees would tentatively show up on water bills in June.
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