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New Lenox Fire District Makes Case For Tax Hike

The New Lenox Fire Protection District wants a tax rate increase to offset mounting costs.

(Left to right) New Lenox Fire Chief Jon Mead, district Trustee Joe Levey and board President Roy Minger at Friday's press conference. Credit: Joseph Hosey
(Left to right) New Lenox Fire Chief Jon Mead, district Trustee Joe Levey and board President Roy Minger at Friday's press conference. Credit: Joseph Hosey
The New Lenox Fire Protection District is looking to offset increased costs through a tax hike.

"The only funding we receive is from property tax," district Trustee Joe Levey said during a Friday morning press conference at Fire Station 1.

The district wants to augment that funding with a higher tax rate.

"Since 1989, the NLFPD has not seen a tax increase," said Levey, who is the chairman of the district's referendum committee.

"During these 25 years, the population has doubled from 16,574 to 34,063 per the U.S. Census Bureau, and the amount of commercial and industrial buildings has grown exponentially as well, causing an increased demand," Levey said.

Literature distributed by the village showed the New Lenox Fire Protection District's tax rate of .36 is lower than Frankfort's .72, Homer's 1.02, Manhattan's .88 and Mokena's .91.

The district wants to bring the rate up to .489. The increase would raise a homeowner's property tax by $43 a year for a $100,000 home and $129 for a $300,000 home.

The influx of money would allow the district to keep ambulance billing free for residents, reduce insurance costs in the district, replace and update equipment, and increase pay for employees, among other things.

The starting pay for a New Lenox firefighter is about $15,000 less than for those at Frankfort, Homer, Lockport, Mokena, Northwest Homer and New Lenox, said Levey who pointed out that in the last five years the district lost 49 firefighters, apparently to higher paying jobs.

The district wants a referendum for the tax increase placed in the ballot for the next election. District board President Roy Minger said such referendums have been defeated since 1989 but an information campaign is hoped to help this one along.

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