What is the purpose of living in a village? What do we get for our tax money? Administration, Engineering, Community Development – all areas of our village that have increased since the “Great Recession.” Public Works, Police and Fire have all DECREASED in the last 5 years – to the point where your public safety services aren’t adequate enough to provide you with protection in your home. For reference, the source of the below information is the Approved Budget and that of previous years, posted on the village’s website that can be seen here: http://vil.carpentersville.il.us/Services/Finance/Budget.asp, combined with my thoughts and opinions on the matter.
In my opinion, Public Works, Police and Fire services are the ESSENTIAL services that a village offers to it’s residents, the very reason for a village to exist – unfortunately the village board doesn’t agree with me. In the last 3 years, (a short and not complete list) they have given the village manager a 10% raise, the assistant village manager a 21% raise, hired an assistant public works director (new position) – to the tune of 98,000 a year, given the HR director an 11% raise, the Assistant to the Village Manager a 15% raise, hired a Assistant Finance Director (new position) for $80,000 a year, created a position for the Police Chief as a “public safety director” to oversee both the police and fire departments – even though he has NO experience or education in running a Fire department. Although not mentioned above, some of the new positions created were actually a re-classification, but this was part of re-organization up at village hall, where the employees didn’t lose their job, they were just re-classified. So the Village reports that the positions were removed, but the number of employees didn’t decrease because of the new positions created.
At the same time, they have reduced the police department officers from 80 to 71 and only gave the officers a modest 3% raise over 3 years (1% per year) as a result of bargaining unit negotiations, although I’m sure they would have preferred the 10-21% that some of the administration employees got. And let’s examine the “major crimes” comparison as well – While the village trustees will tell you that crime is “down,” based on comparison from last year – 3 areas are up, BUT, compared to 2 years ago – 6 Areas are up! Unfortunately, we don’t have the numbers from 5 years ago when they started eliminating positions, but i’m betting that we’re up in nearly every category. What’s more important though (you ask) – is what this means to residents. Where 5-6 years ago the police would deploy between 3pm and 11pm (the busiest call time) 10 officers located in 5 “beats”, now they only deploy 5 officers in those same 5 beats at that time. Just so the trustees understand my math – 5 is half of 10, so a 50% reduction in services to the community. No wonder it takes these poor guys so long to get to calls!
For public works – streets department has lost 3 employees in the last 4 years (you know, the guys that fix the streets and plow the snow – ever wonder why our town is the last to finish snow removal days after a big snow?) 1 more from the Water Department, 3 from the Underground department, and 2 more from the waste water treatment department. Bearing in mind that those 6 are from departments that are paid for by your Water Bill – anyone seen a decrease lately? – Oh wait, there has been steady INCREASES!
So, less police = less police available to respond to someone kicking in your door, less to make traffic stops, etc. That and Public works is kind of a no-brainer. Only a politician could actually believe “We can do MORE with LESS” and try and sell that line of garbage to the public! Sure, technology and efficiency enhancements could help paper-pushers do more with less, but not when it comes to sending people to respond to emergency calls! A village can only do LESS with LESS. And that’s something that any average citizen can understand. That being said, I’m going to spend a little more time with the fire department, because it’s convoluted and near impossible to understand what the heck our village has come up with for this department! I know that this next paragraph is confusing, so, unless you want the specifics outlined below, just skip this paragraph and move onto what the changes mean to the residents…
The fire department used to have 37 firefighters (I don’t count chiefs and administration) in 2005, and today they have 32. Up until the 19th of October, they deployed 4 firefighters per station (12 total.) What the village board will tell the residents is they haven’t reduced the staffing this year – um thanks? What they won’t tell you is that they no longer deploy 12 people in 3 stations. At maximum, they will deploy 3 people in the 2 outer stations and 5 in the central station. At minimum, they will deploy 3 people at the east and central station and 2 at the west station. And while the rest of the details exist, it’s so convoluted to try and explain that it’s not worth doing so here. Whats important, is that there used to be 6 vehicles available 24 hours a day to respond, and now there is only 4 when fully staffed and 3 when at the minimum (but have no fear, east dundee and west dundee will be here! – more than 7 minutes away but who cares – they will get there.) My quick math says the village board has reduced the fire/ems protection to the residents by 33% when fully staffed and 50% when at the minimum. There were 3637 calls for help – and that number is projected to go up, all with 33%-50% less response capability. We do NOT need to be rocket scientists to know this isn’t good for us.
Here are some real world examples of what the mess created by the village board means to us:
- Brain Death Occurs in 4-6 minutes without oxygen (American Heart Association). The average response time used to be just under 4 minutes. With 33%-50% less availability – residents can expect to see the average response time to increase by about the same amount – so just under 6-8 minutes (or greater – it can take east dundee 8 minutes to get to the “Indian Section – Papoose, Helm, Navajo etc). If you or a loved one is having a heart attack, choking, respiratory problems etc and are not breathing … DEATH WILL OCCUR, where it would not have before.
- It takes 12 firefighters to rescue 1 trapped civilian from their home. (You may ask in a comment how I arrived at that number, and i’ll comment with the answer. But before you do, watch this youtube video and pay close attention to the living room fire – one of the most common types of fires that firefighters get called for, aside from bedroom fires. Also watch this one: youtube video. Sorry ahead of time for the nightmares.) With the current plan – the fire department cannot possibly respond with that amount in the first 5 minutes of a fire. So, if your loved one is trapped, they will die before getting rescued, where they wouldn’t have before. Take heart however, they will die from smoke inhalation long before the torture of being burned alive. (Yes, my crudeness is for a reason! This is serious!)
- According to NFPA, it takes 18 firefighters arriving on the scene in the first 8 minutes of the fire to effectively stop and extinguish a structure fire. Combined with how fast our furniture and home contents catch and fuel fire – Youtube is awash with examples, Fires in our home expand at a rate faster than ever before. Given the fire department’s current plan – It simply isn’t possible to get enough resources. That means your house, your possessions – everything will burn to the ground. Once again, take heart – you will get to chose a different insurance company because of the total loss claim, they will rebuild your house and who doesn’t want to start over collecting of lifetime of memories and possessions? And a good portion of the west side is the Fire District, so it’s not the village’s problem anyway. Hey maybe that well staffed Community Development department will ensure that your insurance company takes twice as long rebuilding it trying to navigate the sea of arbitrary code requirements and opinions that exist between the multiple inspectors. That way you could enjoy the posh living arrangements of an upscale rental or hotel longer!
- Insurance companies assign a value to your home (referred to as ISO rating in the budget and a Fire Protection Class in your insurance binder), but that’s only if you have an engine staffed “full time” (greater than 50% of the total call volume) within 1-1/2 miles of driving distance from your home. The east side and west side residents currently do not. That means when the fire department is re-evaluated, the ISO rating will be a 9 – get ready for a 120% increase in your insurance premium. (that’s about 900.00/year extra for me on the east side – i’d hate to calculate one of those houses on the west side.) The trustees will tell you the village has an ISO rating of 3 – so make them put their money where their mouth is – have them request an evaluation by ISO now that they’ve gone and changed everything. Once again, take heart, because, unlike your property taxes, you can’t deduct an insurance premium from your annual Federal Income Taxes so it’ll be faster to do your tax returns! Don’t we all love not getting any additional money back from the government? Let’s summarize that one – great fire department = less insurance premiums. Would you rather pay higher taxes that you can deduct or higher insurance premium that you can’t???? Either way, you’re gonna pay someone!
So – let’s recap: MORE administration employees and HIGHER raises for them – LESS public works, police and fire services for the residents. When someone is breaking into your house, or has a heart attack, your house is on fire, or your street hasn’t come close to being touched by a plow, remember YOU allowed YOUR trustees to put a higher priority on paper pushers than people to do the actual work in the village.