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Illinois Late On Fair Fire Protection Payments

Katherine Johnson
The Coliseum at the Illinois State Fairgrounds

Planning for the state fair is in full swing, but Illinois has yet to pay all the costs for last year’s fair.

The state still owes the city of Springfield around $109,000 for the fire protection it provided to the fairgrounds in the fiscal year that ended last summer. The same amount for the current fiscal year is due by June.

Springfield budget director Bill McCarty says the fire department will continue to provide protection regardless, but late payments do present challenges.

“We can carry $100,000 or $200,000 for a short period of time,” he says. “We’re getting to a point where it’s been a year and half, and it’s time to get caught up. Especially now that we’re considering a long-term contract.”

Under that proposed contract, the city would charge the state a 5 percent annual increase for the next three years. The Springfield City Council could vote on the contract Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, which oversees state fairs, says it’s sending the payment for Springfield to the comptroller’s office Monday. The response came after NPR Illinois asked why the state was months behind in making its payments.

Illinois also operates the state fair in Du Quoin. That town's finance director, Andrew Croessman, says Illinois owes $20,000 for fire coverage there. The Department of Agriculture has sent a check to Du Quoin, according to a spokeswoman. 

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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