Voters rejected a tax hike that would have raised $200,000 annually for the cash-strapped Palatine Rural Fire Protection District.
But, officials have an alternative plan. They want to sell advertising on the side of the district’s ambulance and fire engine.
“I’m not aware of anyone else in Illinois who’s doing this,” Chief Hank Clemmensen said. “We just thought it would be a good way to add some revenue.”
Sliding property tax values in the district, which includes Inverness and unincorporated areas around Palatine, have caused an alarming drop in revenue, meaning it will have to forgo replacing aging utility vehicles and operate with one fewer staff member, the chief said.
The ads, which Clemmensen predicted would bring in around $20,000 annually, won’t make up for the referendum loss, but he did not think it would be controversial. He pledged to devote the space only to tasteful companies and said a financial planner and a real estate agent have already expressed interest.
Clemmensen said the district is working with Phoenix-based Public Safety Advertising, which specializes in renting space on police and fire vehicles. The company couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, but its website shows fire trucks in the Phoenix suburbs with ads for local hospitals.
The ads might be just the first exotic moneymaking plan devised by the district. Clemmensen said he’s also looking at a possible move into “mobile integrated health care” — contracting with hospitals to use fire district employees for wellness checks on newly discharged patients.
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