© 2024 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

West Peoria voters asked to chip in more for emergency services at the ballot box

A photo of West Peoria Fire Protection District fire trucks and ambulances.
West Peoria Fire Protection District

West Peoria voters have a pair of referendums to consider this March.

Mayor James Dillon says both of them are tax increases aimed at supporting the city’s primarily volunteer emergency services. The first referendum would create a new tax for ambulance service.

“The hope is to be able to provide a duty crew that’s paid something to run the ambulance,” said Dillon. “So the response time will be much quicker, because they will be in the fire house.”

Dillon says it’s becoming harder and harder for emergency services to recruit enough volunteers.

“There’s over a 3,000 person shortage in EMTs in Illinois,” he said. “So it’s been a problem for all your volunteers and even paid departments.”

The proposed ambulance tax would be capped at four tenths of one percent of the taxable property value. Similarly, the second referendum would raise the Fire Protection District tax on property from three tenths of a percent to four tenths.

Dillon says this tax is planned to help update and restore equipment for the volunteer department.

“They have to be able to replace their fire trucks approximately every ten years to stay up to standards,” he said. “And the same goes with an ambulance. And so, with big price increases, you know, a truck that used to cost two to three hundred thousand is now seven to eight hundred thousand [dollars].”

While Dillon acknowledges both of these referendums would mean increased cost to taxpayers, he believes the long term savings will be greater than the expense of having to dissolve or outsource either emergency service.

You can view both referendums on a sample ballot here. The primary election is Tuesday, Mar. 19.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.