STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WTVO) — Taxes will increase for several Stateline residents after voters elect to pass several local fire department referendums.
First responders say the funds are needed to keep the public safe. Officials are hopeful an increase in staffing will allow them to save precious time when responding to incidents.
“With people in-house, with people staffed at the fire station, whether it be an ambulance call or a fire emergency, we can be out the door in a couple of minutes,” said Stillman Valley Fire Protection District Chief Chad Hoefle.
The local fire chief says the newly passed referendums should help first responders save lives.
“Houses can go up in just a matter of minutes, depending on the weather conditions and the wind. We really contend with time, and getting there quickly is of the utmost importance,” Chief Hoefle said.
On Tuesday, Stillman Valley voters approved two separate measures which will raise taxes roughly .5%. Chief Chad Hoefle says the revenue will be used to hire staff to be on-site 24/7.
“Just looking at numbers, we could cut response times in half, even more. Just because right now, with any paid-on-call service or volunteer service, where people are responding from home, it takes however long it takes somebody to call 911, and then have dispatch get us in route,” Chief Hoefle explained.
For the Blackhawk Fire Protection District, a .4% sales tax increase will go towards improving ambulances services. The department purchased its own ambulance for the first time last April, but staffing limitations meant it wasn’t being used during daytime hours.
“It just makes sense to have an ambulance closer, rather than relying on other agencies or private companies to come from who knows where. 10, 15, 20 minutes is sometimes unfortunately too long to wait when you’re in an emergency,” explained Blackhawk Fire Protection Chief Jonathan Trail.
“In a cardiac arrest situation, every minute survivability chances deteriorate greatly.”
A fourth local referendum, supporting the New Milford Fire Protection District, also was approved Tuesday.
The money from the rescue fund will be used to help the department with expenses related to PPE and a rising minimum wage.