A Discussion of Recent Questions About Consolidation
Recently many people have been asking about rumors of “consolidation” of the Fire Department. But what does that actually mean?
The term “consolidation” is used for many different kinds of arrangements. Consolidation initiatives generally fall into two main categories: political and functional.
Political consolidation is a popular topic in Illinois these days because there are so many small taxing districts. The theory is that legally combining some of them could result in cost savings.
Under current Fire Protection District law, political consolidation can’t be done without passing a referendum in each of the affected districts. The district board has not been considering this type of consolidation.
Functional consolidation comes in many forms and degrees. What the board has done to this point is to try to provide the highest level of services in a cost-effective manner given the revenues available.
What has the board done so far to combine/share services?
Because of the Rockland FPD’s small size, it is not economical to provide some services directly, so we have partnered with neighboring districts to provide these services. A few examples:
- Dispatching from Countryside FPD
- Ambulance service from Libertyville
- Some plan review and inspection services also from Libertyville
To ensure the most cost-effective services, we have changed providers when it made sense to do so, and at contract renewal time we have reevaluated the feasibility of bringing the service back in-district.
We also provide some services to North Chicago for an annual fee, and we have undertaken a series of initiatives with Lake Bluff to share our resources and services for the common good of both communities.
What does the future hold?
The board has recently been reorganized after appointment of its newest member, and the three trustees will work together to ensure that residents continue to receive the highest level of services possible in a cost-effective manner.
The board will monitor efforts in Springfield to change the law to allow mandated political consolidations. We will work with the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts and our elected officials to ensure that our interests are represented.
Residents are welcome to attend our regular meetings. A schedule of board meetings for 2016 is available on the Fire Department website. Decisions are always made in open session by a vote of the majority of the trustees, and the board’s minutes and published communications are the best source of credible information about what’s happening in the Fire Protection District. We will be posting information on Facebook and our website regularly to keep the public informed.