Boone County Fire District No. 2 to ask residents for ambulance tax

Referendum will be on April 4 ballot
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:07 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:11 PM CST
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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) — Boone County Fire District 2 will soon ask voters to approve an ambulance tax.

If voters approve the tax, which will appear as a referendum on the April 4, 2023 ballot, it will mark the first time the district, which serves 133 square miles in Boone County, has imposed such a levy.

That is because for years, the district has been contracting its ambulance service through OSF St. Anthony Medical Center Lifeline ambulance division. During that time, OSF was subsidizing those services and only charging the district when they transported a patient.

District Chief Brian Kunce says now that OSF has sold Lifeline to a private company and the contract with that company expires next year, the subsidies they enjoyed in the past will likely go away. That is why the district will ask homeowners within the district for approximately $130 year to man two ambulances.

“We and our citizens in our fire district will have to pay to have to pay just to have those ambulances available on standby for a 911 call,” Kunce said.

Kunce said the last thing the district wants to do is raise taxes. But he says since his department responds to more 1,100 calls per year, most of which require an ambulance, the move is necessary to continue responding to those emergencies.

The City of Belvidere Fire Department is in the same situation. Its contract with Lifeline expires this year. In response, the city council is in process of approving funds in the city budget to continue providing those services.

City of Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle says both departments are grateful for what Lifeline has provided to the community throughout the years.

“The labor cost of one ambulance alone is roughly $650,000,” Schadle said. “That’s not counting housing. That’s not counting the ambulance. That’s not counting power. That’s not counting power cots. That’s not counting the ADs, the defibrillators, the cardiac monitors, all the equipment.”

The public is welcome to attend four town hall meetings for information about the upcoming referendum. They are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Feb. 11 and Feb. 25 and March 11 and March 25 at the fire station 1777 Henry Luckow Lane, Belvidere.