COAL VALLEY, Ill. — Residents living in the Coal Valley Fire Protection District on June 28 voted against a property tax increase 64%-36%.
The fire department had proposed increasing the tax from .30% to .40%.
In 2019, the department switched from an all-volunteer staff to a combination one and now has four full-time paid firefighters on staff.
"We were trying to get up to .40% on our general fund, which the general fund can supplement the EMS fund," said Chief David Dunham. "At this time to staff four people, 24 hours a day for a year, it's about a million dollars in payroll. So it's not cheap to do what we're doing, but we feel it's in the best interest for the citizens of our districts."
Since the tax referendum did not pass, Dunham said the fire department will now start looking at where it can make cuts in its budget. It might mean they don't buy a new truck in two years, he said, but they won't be cutting ambulance services or personnel.
"It's always disappointing when it doesn't pass, but I understand, I don't want to pay taxes anymore on my property," Dunham said. "But this is not a cheap endeavor that we did three years ago. And we can't go back. We have to move forward."