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.