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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Peotone, Manhattan Fire see value in consolidation

Any consolidation would require voters approval in a referendum question on a future ballot.

PEOTONE – The Peotone and Manhattan Fire Protection Districts may be on the verge of a full consolidation of the two districts.

“A full consolidation of the two districts would mean that residents will benefit from the long-term delivery of public safety services at a lower cost to Peotone’s taxpayers,” the Peotone Fire Protection District said in a statement Tuesday.

The move comes as both districts evaluated their budgets for the next decade, which reportedly do not support the ability for growth leading to limited investment in equipment and personnel.  Peotone Fire says the effort would offer one streamlined agency responsible for providing fire, rescue and other emergency services to both communities.

“Consolidation would reduce taxpayer’s bills while also strenthing our ability to provide the full range of services that our residents expect and deserve,” Peotone Fire Protection Board of Trustees President Brian Hupe said.  “As the region grows and evolves, we need to grow and evolve with it.  By consolidating our fire districts, we would be well-positioned to deliver robust, quality service over the long haul without having to ask taxpayers to pay more.”

The Districts reports without such a drastic move, services will most likely diminish in the region.

The two districts have been working in tandem over the last year through an intergovernmental agreement, sharing equipment and other services with a combined savings of $600,000.

Chief Steve Malone, who serves both Districts as Chief, said in a statement Tuesday both districts are better over the long term operating as one.

“We’ll be able to further reduce our administrative costs, eliminate duplicate costs and reinvest those dollars into hiring full-time firefighters and paramedics, upgrade our facilities and equipment and ensure that our personnel have everything they need to serve the residents of Peotone and Manhattan proficiently and professionally.” Malone said.

Any consolidation would require voters approval in a referendum question on a future ballot.

“The bottom line is that our personnel are our most valued assets.  Our residents want professional, qualified, trained personnel who are part of the community they’re serving,” said Hupe.  “By consolidating the two districts we would be able to shift towards a more sustainable and predictable full-time staffing model by hiring men and women truly vested in the communities they’ll serve.”

The districts are asking residents for feedback on the proposal. You can contact them directly via their respective websites at ManhattanFire.org or PeotoneFire.org.

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