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New Lenox Fire Protection District Looks to Boost Taxes

The New Lenox is asking to put a referendum on the ballot for the coming election.

The New Lenox Fire Protection District want to pull in more tax money to fund its operations.

The district has asked for a referendum to be placed on the ballot for the next election to clear the way for the tax increase.

"Since 1989, the NLFPD has not seen a tax increase," the district said in a recently released statement. "During these 25 years, the population has doubled from 16,574 to 34,063, and the amount of commercial and industrial buildings has continued to grow as well."

The district also pointed to an increase in the number of calls over the years. The referendum would reduce insurance costs, provide updated services and decrease response times, the statement said.

"Currently the NLFPD tax rate is .36 and it has been recommended to increase it to .489," the statement said. "This would be the equivalent of approximately an extra $86 per year or $7 per month for a $200k home."

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Ty Conderoga January 15, 2014 at 06:11 PM
35 % increase. Instead of just saying it's been awhile since we raised this rate, perhaps it would be better to detail WHY the increase in funds is needed. Generalities don't suffice. Is it to build $2.5 Million firehouses like Frankfort? Are we short on staff? Have there been insufficient responders? What 'updated services'? Not much meat to go on here.
local guy January 15, 2014 at 08:40 PM
I agree. What are the actual reasons for raising the rate? Along with the increase in population is an increase in tax revenue. A 35 percent increase is huge!
James January 16, 2014 at 08:45 AM
Well, there goes half my New Lenox Tax rebate. Completely agree with Ty and Local Guy. Let's have some details and aside from the population increase and corresponding tax base, one must assume revenues jumped from the commercial growth as well. SHOW ME/SHOW US. I certainly wish my salary increased by 35% over that same time period.
Baby Paul January 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM
The public should demand answers from the NLFPD. Too often nobody pays attention to this stuff, and governmental agencies raise taxes without much feedback from the taxpayers. Personally, I've been repeatedly stunned by how big and outlandishly expensive government buildings are around here.
Eric Blair January 16, 2014 at 02:08 PM
It’s not about buildings or service it’s about salary and pensions. Most Fireman make six figures and retire at age 50 with a corresponding pension. Becoming a Firefighter has become a lucrative money making “racket”. Once this ever growing pension monster become more visible/open to our tax bills it will be obvious to all property owners that the teachers are amateurs with their pensions. If anyone thinks it’s bad now just wait ‘till the mass retirement begins. We’ll be losing our homes while we’re in our 60’s and 70’s. By then the tax will be double or triple the present rate. This “Firefighter Racket” is rapidly getting out of control. Don’t forget that compared to other public pensions Fireman pensions are relatively new and growing exponentially.
Ty Conderoga January 16, 2014 at 06:14 PM
End ALL public pensions effectively immediately and give them 401K's, like the rest of us suckers. What's good for the goose, is good for the Gander. I heard Joliet firefighters pull in $125K. That's a BIG pension payout.
joe kaizer January 16, 2014 at 09:42 PM
The pension is not even close to six figures for most retired firefighters. If you read the papers and research the pensions you will see that there is some pension spiking in some districts/departments. This practice artificially raises pensions by increasing the pay of certain employees prior to retirement which increases the pension benefit. Also, the pension problems in some situations were caused by the District or Municipality not making the proper contributions on a regular basis. Firefighters receive no social security yet pay more of a percentage of their pay into their pensions than someone in social security program. If you are interested in how the pension works you can research it in the Illinois statutes, 40 ILCS 5/ article 4. As for the comment that the firefighter pensions are new, the statute has been around since 1919. I don't consider that new. The fact that these firefighters put their lives on the line every day for us and our families is only one of the sacrifices they make. I respectfully disagree with the opinions in this blog.
Eric Blair January 17, 2014 at 06:42 AM
Firefighters put their lives on the line every day for us and our families? Maybe, but that’s not an excuse to extort more and more money from the rest of us. We all put our lives on the line every time we walk out the door into this increasingly crazy society/world. With the exception of Chicago and a few other large cities it was less than 40yrs. ago most fire departments were volunteer. As for me I’m sick of being extorted based on the improbable chance that a very small percentage of Firefighters might get hurt or killed on the job. We all face that possibility. The Fire District portion of my tax bill is way too high already, is even more $$$ going to make us safer? No thanks. Maybe privatizing and paid by call would work. What we have now is out of control monetarily.
joe kaizer January 17, 2014 at 09:13 AM
Volunteer firefighters are extremely hard to find, keep and they have other jobs that make it impossible to be available for all calls. Less and less people volunteer for firefighter positions. The other issue that makes being a volunteer even harder is the growing mandatory training required of each firefighter, volunteer or career. As a town, village or any municipality grows the responsibility of the fire department/district grows. There is no extortion. All you have to do is go down to the fire department and talk with who every runs it and your elected officials to find out why the referendum is needed. As for all of us facing the same possibility of being hurt or injured, its not the same possibility. If you look at statistics firefighting is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. I again respectfully disagree with the negative posts in this blog.
lala January 17, 2014 at 02:09 PM
Joe Kaizer - According to an article in Forbes magazine, these are the ten most dangerous jobs: The 10 Deadliest Jobs: 1. Logging workers 2. Fishers and related fishing workers 3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers 4. Roofers 5. Structural iron and steel workers 6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors 7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers 8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers 9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers 10. Construction laborers If a firefighter is making six figures he/she should plan better for retirement. I, for one, am sick of funding all these pensions. If this were Chicago and they were constantly working it would be a different story.
Green Hornet January 17, 2014 at 03:18 PM
"Most Fireman make six figures and retire at age 50" FALSE!
joe kaizer January 17, 2014 at 04:52 PM
Sorry, I must have had some old information. It is now the 13th most dangerous job in the world (http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2013/11/12/the-15-most-dangerous-jobs-in-america/). I don't know where you are getting your information but I don't know of any firefighter who makes over $100,000 a year, unless they work a whole lot of overtime and this is not counted toward a pension. Also, almost 10% of their earnings is taken out each pay period for their pension. As for the city of Chicago there are firehouses throughout the city that run less calls than a lot of suburban departments. Te fire service of today is a lot more complex than most people realize. lala can I ask you a question? What do you do to help your community?
lala January 17, 2014 at 05:01 PM
Not false Green Hornet. I know of a suburban fire fighter that makes 97 grand and that is without benefits and yes, he will retire at 50 as he has put in his years of service to be eligible for a full pension.
joe kaizer January 17, 2014 at 05:51 PM
A full pension is not 97000. Look at the statute.
joe kaizer January 17, 2014 at 06:02 PM
A New Lenox firefighter probably makes half that if he is lucky.
Eric Blair January 18, 2014 at 08:17 AM
Simple way to verify the high salaries. Shortly, the Fire District will publish the short version of their Annual Financial Report in a local newspaper. By law are these published. They are legal notices located way in the back pages printed in very small font. All taxing bodies publish these notices hoping nobody notices. In these notices are the names of personnel and their salary range along with other financial info. Last year in the small Mokena F.D. more than half were in the six figure range. Orland Park the same. New Lenox as well. This is the big secret “they” do their best to conceal. I’d wager this year even more are added to the six figure class. As for pensions they are also hidden from the eyes of the payers. In order to find a pension figure it would require a FOI Request, something most won’t do since making such a request puts a big target on the back of the one seeking the info., all by design. Whenever governments/taxing bodies do all they can to keep the public ignorant of monetary expenses (all, all the time) that indicates “Red” flag. Of course most people are too lazy or don’t know how to find this info., and the taxing bodies love it.
joe kaizer January 18, 2014 at 09:01 AM
There is no way that over half the department is over six figures. I can only think of one person that may be and that would probably be the chief and I would have to verify that with a FOI request. I wish you would get your facts straight before you spout about things you don't know. I don't know why you are so against something that is the right thing to do. FOI requests don't put targets on people, people spouting erroneous information put targets on people. Why don't you just go to the fire department and ask to talk with someone who can answer your questions?
Taxpayer January 18, 2014 at 09:03 AM
Here is more on the story http://newlenox.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/new-lenox-fire-district-makes-case-for-tax-hike , avg firefighter paramedic starts 15,000 less than all the surrounding towns. They make about the same as the teen at McD's flipping fries . Think they're risking their lives you and me with rigs that are out of date, and need repair. http://newlenox.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/new-lenox-fire-district-makes-case-for-tax-hike
Green Hornet January 18, 2014 at 09:32 AM
Lala what is false is the misconsepition that all firefighters are out there making six figures...research and check local FD's pay scale......
molati January 18, 2014 at 02:05 PM
These comments about firefighters making 100k fail mention or are too lazy to research HOW these people earned that money. Most fulltime firefighters work well over 3000 hours in a year. Most firefighters are required to have higher education degrees and some even have masters degrees. These people are highly educated well trained professionals just like any other healthcare professional or tradesmen. Guess what, most journeyman carpenters earn upwards of 6 figures, get a better pension, social security and healthcare to boot. This notion of a lush retirement at 50 years old is a myth. At 50 with 20 years on the job you could retire and receive 50% of your last salary, no insurance, no social security...what a boondoggle! The real problem is this race to the bottom mentality...A rising tide raises all ships
Vic January 18, 2014 at 02:21 PM
I love all these crybabies whining about and high taxes. I live in NL because it's safe, the schools are top notch, yards are big, lots of beautiful trees, the parks are great and hopefully someday, when I decide to sell my house i'll make a nice return on my investment. That's what we pay taxes for my friends otherwise move to chicago ridge or alsip and see how you like it there.
Eric Blair January 18, 2014 at 03:06 PM
Guess the Financial Reports are lies. Sorry to have falsely alarmed you all. We should be like Vic. Never question anything and gladly pay all taxes that are demanded. A great citizen indeed. Now if we could just find jobs for those six figure carpenters and the thousands of other out of work Tradesmen in this area all would be well. While Vic was busy being happy those jobs were indirectly shipped to China and Mexico. Good citizens don’t pay attention to small details like that. Bottom Line: shut up and pay.
Gary P January 20, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Very spirited conversation. Sounds like everyone got off track. Bottom line is we need no more new taxes. The old argument that they put their life on the line every day is getting tired. When someone goes for public service like that they know what they're getting in to. As far as pensions, the state has pretty much destroyed them, even though public union employees have been paying in to them for years. I think, and this is only my opinion, that no one should be collecting on pensions at age 50. Just like social security there should be a minimum retirement age before you start collecting. If they retire earlier they collect less. As far as 401k plans that some knucklehead mentioned , just because that's all that's offered in some of the private sector doesn't mean that that's the right way to go.Its not good for the goose or the gander. Its another form of legal gambling. Maybe you'll make money, maybe you won't. You can even lose it all. The bottom line is the fire district wants more money and because other districts are getting more they want more. Its called keeping up with the Jones's. This town is not Mokena or Frankfort. We are still a blue collar town , evident by our choice of new stores , Walmart, Goodwill, White Castle. Our job market is fast food and warehouses. I know I've simplified , however my point is no more new taxes. The village needs to start sharing all those BIG revenues its pulling in from Walmart and that beautiful mini mall that surrounds it. NO NEW TAXES. By the way, where are all those loudmouth Tea party people. Why aren't they standing out at the corner with their card table and pamphlets informing people of this potential tax hike? Hmmmmm.
joe kaizer January 20, 2014 at 12:08 PM
Hello Gary. I respect your opinion on the issue, however, if you are in a job and the cost of living rises do you expect to get a raise? I know I do. The question then becomes what is fair. To a certain extent yes they know what they are getting into but there are many people who would not want this job because of the physically demanding work that is involved not to mention 0-60 in seconds from eating a meal, sleeping (yes they do sleep sometimes), or just carrying on with normal everyday chores and training. The amount collected on a pension varies with age and time on the job. As far as collecting at age 50 one of the reasons behind this is the fact that the job is so demanding that age is a huge factor in being able to do the physical demands of the job, not to mention the physical stress put on the body organs and the body as a whole from the invisible stress that comes with the job. The comment about keeping up with the Jones' is not very valid. The rising costs of equipment along with all the other rising costs is what is prompting this referendum. A new engine cost somewhere around $180,00 to $200,000 back in 1989 or 90. Today a new engine equipped the same would be close to $500,00, around a 250% increase. I feel the increase in the tax rate is justified but people need to make sure they are educated on all the aspects of the need for the increase. Thanks for a breath of fresh air to the post.
Eric Blair January 20, 2014 at 05:06 PM
Joe, I got a good laugh from your last post concerning the retirement at 50yrs. due to the physical demands from the job. I worked heavy construction all my life mostly in Chicago. Back 20-30 years ago Chicago Firemen oftentimes moonlighted 2 or 3 days on our jobs when they were off duty from the Department. We were in the masonry business. Lots of the Irish Firefighters were bricklayers then. The work was and still is backbreaking and several times, when the Firemen were done with their short stint with us they’d say “ … I can’t wait to get back to the firehouse, I need a rest…”. For the record I like the Fireman but this prima donna attitude they have been elevated to isn’t doing them any good. And also for the record the moonlighting Chicago Firemen that I knew are enjoying retirement in Florida while most of my former colleagues are dead or crippled. I’m not complaining. Just wish you would stop all this woe is me I’m a Fireman nonsense. It isn’t working and in fact is hurting your cause. Good luck.
joe kaizer January 21, 2014 at 03:15 PM
This isn't just a pension issue. Along with that the laws have changed for firefighters coming on after January 2011. A firefighter is now required to be minimum 55 years old to retire with 20 years of service. I also have worked as a laborer for a concrete business and held 2 to 3 different jobs at one time on top of that. I worked in a factory where the job was also back breaking. I was not in any union but I do know that the laborer's union had great wages and benefits. I know enough firefighters to tell you that not all think of themselves as prim-a-donas. I also know that the life expectancy of firefighters is considerably shorter than the average person. There is no doubt that there are firefighters enjoying retirement just like there are laborers enjoying retirement. If you want to vote no that's your choice. I think you insult the intelligence of other voters by telling everyone to vote no. People are smart enough to make up their own minds as to whether they agree or disagree with the referendum. Just don't feed them erroneous information.
Al Bonne March 14, 2014 at 03:52 PM
From .389% to still less than half a %...let them have it.
steve biecko March 14, 2014 at 04:59 PM
the "percentage of levy" is irrelevant. Even at todays .4 levy I'm betting its still millions of bucks. I'd like to see how big the levy was 20yrs ago, vs the levy today. My guess is, with all the growth in the area that the fire dept budget is MUCH bigger today than it was 20 or even 10 yrs ago. Lets see the growth in the depts spending over the last 20 yrs.... Next point: as someone else posted, its always a 'keeping up with the Jones' type of thing. Same with schools. "Oh, in the town next door, they pay X, we need to offer X+1." The problem becomes when the 2nd town over says: "They pay X+1, we need to offer X+2." Then of course the 3rd town over needs to pay x+3..... and the game continues. These people aren't stupid. (the administrators) Its a game to keep increasing the budgets. With increased budgets, come increased salaries. Rinse and repeat cause the dumb taxpayer keeps paying. Our local taxing bodies are in a spending race with each other, and we the taxpayers end up the losers. Do you know why Il is losing population every yr? Its because the taxes at the state, county and local level are WAY TOO high. The voters need to wake up and put a stop to all this ever increasing fiscal insanity. On a related note, and the FD's 'threat' that without a hike they may have to institute a 'user fee', I'd like to know why there isn't a 'user charge' for ambulance calls? i mean, if a small segment of the population is using these services, then the users should carry the freight. I know if I get in an accident and need an ambulance to get carted to the hospital (or morgue) my insurance would pick it up- no need to tax *EVERYONE* ; ah, but then you see, the jones' game of ever increasing taxes and salarys and budgets would slow down, and the unions/politicians don't want that. Please dispute me

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