Naperville Looking Into Emergency Service "User Fees"

Critics call move, adopted by more than 100 Illinois communities, double taxation

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    Naperville could soon be added to the list of more than 100 communities in Illinois that will send residents a bill for some emergency services they use.

    The far western suburb, facing a $3.6 million budget hole next year, is looking into assessing fees for some fire department services, like time used by personnel and equipment used, as well as charging businesses for fire inspections.

    "It's in the very beginning stages. All we're really asking for from the council members is the ability to look into it." said Naperville's Deputy Fire Chief, Rick Sanders.

    Survey of Fire Department User Fees (.pdf, Nov. 2010)

    But many see the fees as double-dipping by the city for services that are already being paid through taxpayer funds.

    "We're a community. A community has basic services: police, fire, garbage, snow plowing -- those are the things that you expect in a community. That's why you pay your taxes," said Naperville City Councilman Douglas Krause, who's strongly opposed to the idea.

    "It's a poor way of addressing the situation, which is the funding issue," Bob Passmore, with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said last year when NBC Chicago reported on the user fees throughout the state.

    The organization represents more than 1,000 insurance companies fighting against the emergency services fee.

    The city of Naperville already has an existing charge for ambulance usage.