Petitions to file for a referendum in one of the necessary steps to dissolve the Elk Grove Rural Fire Protection District have been collected and are stored in the offices of the fire district’s attorneys, the Journal & Topics has learned.
Those petitions, held at the offices of Odelson, Sterk, Murphey, Frazier & McGrath, could be filed with a judge who could then order a referendum be placed on an upcoming ballot allowing voters to dissolve the district.
Fire District Board President Carlos Maldonado said collecting petitions was a preliminary action to be prepared for the district’s dissolving, but said no action beyond that has been taken.
Fire district trustees acknowledge funding is unsustainable as annexations have shrunk the boundaries of the fire district and with that, shrunk available property tax revenue.
Another step in the dissolution process, which the fire district took at its Aug. 17 meeting, was to declare district assets as surplus and able to be sold, specifically the fire station itself. On Aug. 19 the fire district ran a legal notice in an area newspaper declaring the fire station as surplus and setting the valuation for the building at $850,000.
An item on the fire district’s Thursday, Sept. 21 meeting agenda was to declare additional fire district assets including vehicles as surplus, able to be sold, but no vote to do that was taken at the Sept. 21 meeting.
Fire district trustees also voted to engage a surveyor or engineer to create or confirm a boundary and territory description.
Also filed in the Chancery Division of the Cook County Circuit Court on Sept. 21, in the hours before the fire district meeting, was an amended motion by attorneys for the village of Mount Prospect and Elk Grove Township, separate governmental entities from the fire district, seeking a preliminary temporary restraining order to prevent the fire district from declaring any further assets as surplus.
A court date is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 3 on the requested restraining order in Cook County Chancery Division Judge Neal Cohen’s courtroom.
The village and township filed for an initial temporary restraining order on Sept. 11 to stop the fire district from selling its assets after the August vote declaring the fire station surplus property.
Mount Prospect Village Manager Michael Cassady, Mount Prospect Finance Director Amit Thakkar, Mount Prospect Fire Chief John Dolan, and other Mount Prospect officials attended the Sept. 21 meeting.
The Journal learned that although Odelson, Sterk, Murphey, Frazier & McGrath remains the fire district’s primary firm, attorney Kim Walberg of Chicago-based Taft Law is now representing the fire district in the court action brought by Mount Prospect and Elk Grove Township.
The village and township attorneys contend that any assets of the fire district should be transferred to the municipal government taking over firefighting responsibilities for the district.
Additionally, Stream Data Centers was recently granted annexation of the Roppolo Subdivision in unincorporated Elk Grove Township, into the village of Elk Grove Village, which would become effective in early 2024.
To be annexed into Elk Grove Village, Stream had to have all 55 homes in the subdivision under contract. Stream and Elk Grove Village officials said closings on those 55 homes would happen in two phases with the first round of closings beginning next month.
All of the fire district trustees live in the Roppolo Subdivision. Maldonado, who lives with his wife Heather, also one of five fire district trustees, said the closing on his home would take place in October. The fire district board could function with a quorum of three trustees. Fewer trustees than that would fail to reach a quorum and would not be able to conduct fire district business in a public meeting.
Attempts have been made for several years to secure an agreement between the fire district and surrounding municipalities to dissolve the district and keep a continuity in fire fighting and emergency medical response, but a recent effort involving Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect failed.
Mount Prospect village officials have proposed a special service area, which would allow Mount Prospect to take over the entire Elk Grove Rural Fire Protection District coverage area. A public hearing is scheduled by Mount Prospect in early November.
Also at the Sept. 21 meeting, fire district trustees adopted a calendar year 2024 budget and set a property tax levy without discussion.Support local news by subscribing to the Journal & Topics in print or online.