Tri-Creek townships want county help on public safety costs

2013-08-10T17:45:00Z 2013-08-13T11:39:07Z Tri-Creek townships want county help on public safety costsMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent
August 10, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

Three townships and emergency responders in south Lake County say they deserve a piece of the county income tax pie.

In formal letters sent to all Lake County Council members and commissioners June 26, Cedar Creek Township Trustee Alice Dahl pointed to the state code in her request for public safety funding from the new tax.

The latest estimates indicate Lake County could expect a total of $145 million with at least $24 million of that dedicated for public safety distribution.

"We haven't heard anything back yet," Dahl said Wednesday. "We asked for a reply."

In her letter, Dahl said, "Cedar Creek Township bears the majority of the expense in the support of the Tri-Creek Ambulance Service, Lake Dale Fire Department and Shelby Fire Department and funds Lowell Fire Department."

Dahl said Lowell contributes nothing to the ambulance service or the two fire departments outside Lowell.

Generally, municipalities are the recipients of the public safety portion of the new tax.

However, state law allows for the distribution of the safety funds to nonmunicipalities that provide for fire protection or emergency medical services.

"I support the fact the townships should get part of that money," said Lowell Councilman Eldon Strong, R-7th.

The townships' cut likely would come from the county's portion, but the council needs to figure county costs first before determining what might be available, he said.

"We haven't gotten that far," he said Thursday. "The townships definitely deserve a piece of the pie."

Like Dahl, West Creek Township Trustee Harold Mussman Jr. fired off letters to County Council members and commissioners in late June.

Pat Mussman, of the West Creek office, said it is important that county elected officials recognize the three, south county townships pay more for fire and ambulance than the town does.

*"The town's budget is $4.5 million, and West Creek's is only $302,000," she said. "We pay Tri-Creek Ambulance $182,000 and another $60,000 to the various fire departments for contracts."

In Eagle Creek Township, Trustee Rosemarie Morrow said she has talked with members of the Lake County Council about the public safety tax.

"The option money needs to come out here, too. Not just Eagle Creek, but to south county," she said.

The Tri-Creek Ambulance Service board of trustees agreed and put its support of the townships in writing July 2.

A letter to the County Council from Michael McIntire, Tri-Creek Ambulance Service board president, said it was the board's understanding that townships were not under consideration to receive a portion of the tax.

"Townships have a substantial need for funds for ambulance and fire service protection in their townships," he said.

West Creek, Cedar Creek and Eagle Creek townships make up the southernmost part of Lake County. They spread from the Illinois/Indiana border at the west to the Porter County border to the east.

*This story has been corrected from its original version.

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