People confused and concerned about fee for first responders

By Anna Carrera , Anthony Antoine |

Published 03/06 2014 04:43PM

Updated 03/06 2014 05:37PM

Update: 4:43 pm, 3/6/14, Thursday
DANVILLE -- Mayor Scott Eisenhauer has been getting concerned calls and messages lately. According to a new budget proposal, people may need to pay a fee when firefighters respond to EMS calls.

This has nothing to do with first responders going to house fires. The mayor says, if people call 911 and don't want to pay that fee, they can request paramedics to come instead of firefighters.
Original: 6:00 pm, 3/5/14, Wednesday
DANVILLE -- The word is spreading like wildfire around town. If you want EMS and firefighters at your door, you may have to pay for it. City leaders are looking for ways to make ends meet. But, people aren't happy with the latest plan. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has their reactions.

If firefighters are dispatched to your home on a medical call, it could cost you hundreds of dollars. It isn't final, but it's part of the most recent budget proposal.

But, people don't like what they're hearing. Marti Washington visits her burned home from time to time.

"I was standing right here on the deck and that's when I called the fire department from and, within six minutes, they were here."

Firefighters rescued her last year.

"Two more minutes, I wouldn't have been here."

But, that type of service could come at a higher price. They city is looking at an EMS Response Fee. $300 covers the first fire truck and three firefighters. If backup is needed, it's $50 per firefighter, per hour.

"It's just another tax. We're a small community. We don't have the resources like Champaign-Urbana does. We got too many people making big money salaries that should be shut off."

"I object to it myself. I mean, people that have insurance, it's okay, but otherwise, the people that don't, it's unfair."

"The economy in Danville is so bad, that a lot of people don't have the money to pay that bill, and if they're going to give them a bill, how are they going to pay for it, number one, and if they don't, are they going to enact a fine?"

The city says costs are going up. Sales tax revenue is sluggish and property values are declining. The mayor says they have no other choice.

"We certainly recognized there may be some tweaks, maybe in this third proposal before we get to a final draft. But, I think what makes this much more tolerable is, rather than a flat fee, which is an addition tax upon everyone, this is a user fee."

To try to balance the budget, the city will also look at an early retirement program. City leaders hope to have an approved budget in April.

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