The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 24, 2014

Danville fee system could work

The Commercial-News

---- — Danville city officials, like their counterparts in many other communities across the country, face a growing problem of trying to pay for important services without placing too much of a financial burden on residents. It’s a delicate balancing act.

Danville officials recently began discussing a new way to pay for the city’s fire department. The original idea called for an $8 monthly fee on every sewer line in the city. The revenue from the fee, estimated at $1 million a year, would help pay for the fire department’s operation.

Officials could increase the property tax rate to do the same thing, but they want to keep the rate as near $2 per $100 of assessed value as possible. So the idea of creating revenue elsewhere — such as the fee — is being considered.

At Tuesday’s city council session, Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Davis suggested a tiered fee schedule, where bigger buildings with higher property value pay more than single-family dwellings. It’s a fair point, and one the city council should seriously consider. If fire protection coverage decreases, it could cost all homeowners more money in higher insurance rates.

As always, there will be those who don’t want any increase in fees or taxes, yet want the same level of fire protection and other city services. That’s simply not possible. No one wants to see taxes, or fees, increase. But if the city is to continue to provide effective fire protection, the proposed fee seems like a reasonable solution.