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Local

Morris Fire and Ambulance Protection District looks for 2018 referendum

MORRIS - The Morris Fire & Protection District will be seeking a tax increase on the March 20, 2018 general election.

The district approved unanimously on Nov. 16 a measure to place a referendum on the ballot to impove ambulance service for residents and visitors to the district, according to a news release.

If the referendum passes. it would increase the maximum ambulance tax rate for the district from 10 cents per $100 to 35 cents per $100. If the district levied the full amount available, the owner of a $100,000 home who is currently paying $3 for the service would see an increase of approximately $7 per month in ambulance service taxes.

“The district has taken a very fiscally responsible approach to budgeting and the trustees will continue this effort," Board President Dave Bonomo said. "To meet the needs of our District taxpayers and provide outstanding ambulance and fire response we are asking for our first-rate increase in 25 years."

According to a release, the district would take the maximum increase and purchase another ambulance while the additional funds will be used to replace the 72-year-old downtown fire station, referred to as Station 1.

The district has a capital fund for building replacement that currently has a balance of $1.6 million dollars. The estimated cost of replacement is $2.75 to $3 million dollars.

The district serves approximately 22,000 residents across 140 square miles in Grundy County.

The board determined that the district needs to expand its advanced life support (ALS) ambulance coverage to district residents due to the continued increase of emergency medical calls. To increase that ALS coverage, the district would add another ambulance to its current fleet of two ALS ambulances available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to a total of three ALS ambulances.

The district has been operating on the current tax rate since 1992 and feels it needs this increase to provide the needed services for the increase in calls and an aging population. If a majority of voters in the district approve, the district would be permitted to increase its ambulance levy up to a maximum of 35 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

In addition to the expanded ALS ambulance coverage, the district also plans to use the increased tax revenue to replace aging emergency vehicles and to retain trained personnel.

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