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VILLA PARK : Council to Consider Joining Fire Authority

October 31, 1994|BILL BILLITER

The City Council has scheduled a special meeting at 7 p.m. today to consider whether to join a proposed countywide fire authority.

Mayor Barry Denes called the special session after meetings last week with county officials who are working to form the new fire authority.

At issue is a countywide proposal called the Joint Powers Authority. The JPA would be a new governing board for the Orange County Fire Department, which serves Villa Park and 17 other cities in the county. Each city ratifying the agreement and county government would have representation on the board of the JPA. The new fire authority is scheduled to be launched by late fall.

Villa Park has been the only city to balk at joining the proposed authority. A majority on the City Council contend that JPA rules, as originally drafted, were poorly defined and could lead to hefty tax increases for Villa Park residents within three years.

Denes, in a report to the City Council last week, said officials coordinating the proposed JPA are now agreeable to putting a 2% lid on possible tax increases. Denes said he would call a special meeting of the council if fire authority officials gave a firm commitment on a tax lid.

The fire authority has become a hot political issue in Villa Park. In September, a delegation of former mayors criticized the incumbent City Council for not joining the JPA. In addition, Steve Loritz, a candidate who hopes to unseat one of three incumbent city council members running for reelection Nov. 8, said he considers the JPA a central issue in the city's election. Loritz and the former mayors have been especially critical of the incumbent council for at one time considering a possible fire-service contract with the City of Orange.

But Denes, at the council meeting on Tuesday, announced that Villa Park is no longer considering a possible contract with the City of Orange Fire Department as an alternative to joining the JPA. "In effect, the alternative plan is really dead," Denes said.

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