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New Fire Protection Fee Moves Forward

Every parcel - whether its occupied or not or uses a well - will get charged $15 per quarter under the proposed fee structure.

Assuming the Public Service Commission gives Caledonia the nod, all village property owners will soon pay into the fire protection fee.

Trustees Monday night approved a resolution that directs staff to start preparing the necessary village ordinances and PSC applications to kick the fee onto its own utility bill and take it off the tax levy.

In a nutshell, the water needed to put out fires is currently paid for by residents who use municipal water, and it is part of their annual tax bill.

The proposed fire protection fee structure takes that money out of the property tax and instead charges it separately on a quarterly basis. Village Administrator Mark Janiuk told Patch the estimated payments come to about $15 per parcel, whether the land is occupied or not, for every property owner, even those who get their water from a well.

"This is really the best way to go because everyone benefits from the fire department having the necessary water to put out fires," he said.

The fire protection charge does not include the cost of the firefighters and firefighting equipment, which is paid for in the village’s budget.

Quarterly billing also means having regular cash flow instead of collecting money in arrears, Village President Bob Bradley pointed out.

Trustee Tom Weatherston pointed out that Caledonia is one of just a handful of communities across the state that hasn't switched to a fee structure. Still, he worries about residents getting a bill for such a small amount and just ignoring it.

"We'll have to do quite a bit of educational outreach," Janiuk acknowledged.

It is possible the fee could go into effect as early as the fourth quarter of 2013.

Caledonia Retiree May 22, 2013 at 12:22 AM
This is the biggest ripoff I've ever seen. I have to waste my time coughing up $15 every quarter so folks in the Caledonia municipal water district can pay for their fire hydrants and pipes? And poor farmers with nothing that can burn other than their crops have to pay too? Who cooked this one up, Bradley? Or was it those other morons residents put in their positions on the village board? I hope this generates as much opposition as the Wal-Mart!!! Let's hope the PSC says NO (but, of course, they won't).
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) May 22, 2013 at 12:39 AM
All - no swearing! Disagreement is fine but let's not use any 4-letter words. Thanks.
Greg Botting May 22, 2013 at 01:36 AM
User Fee? That's a misnomer. My property doesn't use district water yet I pay a user fee. Don't use sewer, yet I pay a user fee, Can't use fire hydrants, yet I'll again pay a user fee. Mark Janiuk's quote states everyone will benefit from a hydrant fee. How? Does fire department have a mile of hose so I can be one of the "everyone" Mark refers to. These are taxes by any name.
Bubbles May 22, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Administrator Janiuk is certainly no friend of the taxpayer. Seeing as he is appointed and not elected, he does not have to answer to Caledonia taxpayers. Earlier it was stated that places that were exempt such as Siena Center would have to pay this fee in the future. I no longer see this in the article. Also, a past article said the yearly TAX was about $60. Where is the savings we were supposed to get by adding farm land, properties with wells, and exempt properties?
Tuco May 22, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Next we'll see a garbage pickup fee and recycling fee...Sorry! I'm late on that one. So I have both a well and muni water. Double for me? More reeeediculousness from our board of Trustees......
Adam May 22, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Then they'll say the $15 isn't enough, so they will need to raise it. That will keep happening, since these people just cannot stay out of our pockets. Seriously when is it enough?????
Tansandy May 24, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Why should I have to pay for a fire tanker and the personnel to operate it when I have a hydrant across the street? Why do I have to pay for tractors and manpower to cut the weeds in the ditch, when I have none? You see we all are paying for things we don't need. Because of our anti-development mindset, hang on to your shorts. The ride with the user fees will bigger and rougher. But hey, we all keep hollering about NIMBY, or I don't use those services. I for one am all for more user fees! Until we wake up and see all the new construction going on all around our village, and tell ourselves we can't be a bedroom community much longer, these fees will continue to grow.

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