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Local Election

Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District wins referendum that failed in March

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LAKE IN THE HILLS – The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District can start restoring services that have been cut and setting aside funds for long-term needs after an emergency and rescue tax was passed Tuesday, Fire Chief Peter Van Dorpe said.

About 7,790 voters – or 54 percent – voted “yes,” and 6,593 voters – or 46 percent – voted “no,” according to unofficial results.

District voters rejected the same referendum in the March primary by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.

“People want to know what they’re voting for or against, and I think we did a better job of reaching people this time around,” Van Dorpe said Wednesday.

The 0.1 percent tax will add about $65 on the property tax bill of the owner of a $200,000 house, Van Dorpe has said.

The district, which serves about 40,000 residents in Algonquin and Lake in the Hills, is expecting the tax to generate about $800,000 a year, Van Dorpe said.

About half of the funds gained from the tax are expected to go toward the department’s vehicle replacement fund, Van Dorpe said.

“We have a little bit, a couple hundred thousand [put away],” Van Dorpe said. “We should be putting $450,000 every year, so there goes the bulk of the new tax money.”

The department also plans on putting an ambulance back in service that has been out of commission for about two years, taking care of deferred building repairs, waiving fees insurance won’t cover for patients being transported to the hospital and planning to set aside money for a dive team, Van Dorpe said.

Some residents have questioned why the district needed the tax when it had a little less than $200,000 surplus in fiscal 2016, Van Dorpe said.

He said the district’s 2016 budget was prepared before the March referendum results were in, and the department anticipated it would get the money needed to make repairs at its stations.

When the referendum did not pass, the projects were deferred, so the money set aside for them never was used, he said. The surplus also did not provide enough funds for long-term planning, he said.

“We have to make it work with this now,” Van Dorpe said. “So this and new growth, and that’s it.”

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