Highwood issues fire station referendum
The City of Highwood will hold a referendum vote March 15 to decide whether a city-approved agreement with Highland Park for shared fire services should go forward.
The agreement would close the Highwood fire station and disband Highwood's fire and emergency services, though firefighters who didn't retire as a result of the change would likely join the consolidated force in Highland Park.
Both cities approved the intergovernmental agreement last month.
The referendum will ask voters, “Shall the City of Highwood Fire Department serving the citizens with the City of Highwood cease to provide emergency services and be dissolved and discontinued?”
Highwood officials have stressed that the move will not only maintain current service times but will also save the city more than $9.3 million in operating costs over the next decade in addition to savings from pensions that no longer need to be paid. Highwood officials also pointed to the larger high-quality department in Highland Park and the fact that the cities have already successfully consolidated 911 services.
If the referendum does not pass, Highwood said it will likely turn to a third party firefighting staffing service, which would cost several hundred thousand dollars more than pursuing the agreement with Highland Park.