SPRINGFIELD… A bill sponsored by State Representative Don Moffitt (R-Gilson) was signed by Governor Rauner on Friday. The bill was drafted to protect Fire Protection Districts against default annexations.
House Bill 5610, signed into law as Public Act 99-837, provides that the Trustees of a Fire Protection District must vote to approve the additional territory before taking on the responsibility for the fire protection services of a municipality, after that city or town has dissolved its own fire department. This legislation was designed to ensure that a Fire Protection District can successfully fulfill the additional duties when a fire department dissolves with the intent of transferring its fire service to an adjacent fire district. Under current law, by referendum, a municipality may dissolve its fire department. Although it is likely in the event of a dissolution that an agreement has been reached for an alternative source of fire service with a nearby district, it is not required by law. Under this legislation the fire district, as a taxing body, has the ability to protect its taxpayers from being forced to accept territory annexations without prior approval by the fire district trustees of the district that will be responsible for serving the additional territory.
House Bill 5610 was an initiative of the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts. Chuck Vaughn, Representative for the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts, said, “Rep. Moffitt has again stepped up to meet a need of the Illinois Fire Protection Districts. As many may be aware, there may be instances where a municipality, using a referendum, eliminates its fire department. In the unlikely occurrence, the fire protection district chosen to replace the fire department, shall only do so by an affirmative action of its Board. This will ensure that no district is asked to provide a service without having accepted that responsibility.”
“Some would be surprised that Rep. Moffitt was able to do this. The fire districts were not surprised. Every time we need him, he’s there for us,” continued Vaughn.