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Article updated: 2/14/2014 5:17 PM

Close Wauconda 911 center, village administrator says

Doug Maxeiner

Doug Maxeiner

 
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Wauconda's 911 center will be mothballed and the service outsourced to Lake Zurich under a plan recommended by Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner.

The cost-cutting move could save $2.1 million over five years, Maxeiner said Friday in a news release.

A slightly different version of the release, signed by Mayor Frank Bart, was distributed by email and social media to the public. It immediately led to angry comments on social media.

"Wow, just terrible," resident Dirk Leahy wrote on Facebook. "I don't know anyone that is for this in our town."

"Be prepared for another large crowd on Tuesday," local merchant Maria Weisbruch said on Facebook, referring to next week's scheduled board meeting.

Bart couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

The board could review an outsourcing plan Feb. 25, and vote on the matter in March, Maxeiner said in a telephone interview.

Trustee Linda Starkey said didn't know about the recommendation until she read the news release.

"I think we're all kind of in shock right now as to how fast things are developing," Starkey told the Daily Herald.

The announcement comes less than four years after Wauconda officials -- then led by a different mayor -- vowed to keep 911 services in-house if voters approved a 2010 tax-rate increase for fire-district services.

The measure passed, and a new 911 center was built at the police station in 2011.

To close the center now would be "a complete 180 (degree) turnaround," Starkey said.

"That's something we have to discuss," she said.

Ten full-time and two part-time dispatch positions will be eliminated if the village closes the dispatch center.

Maxeiner made note of the human impact of the proposed shift in his news release.

"These positions are not just numbers," he said. "They are our friends and co-workers and the prospect of implementing an outsourcing option is emotional for all involved."

The statement went out after Maxeiner met with the dispatcher's union representatives Friday. He said he's talking with the union about potential severance packages and counseling services.

Additionally, Maxeiner said he's spoken with Lake Zurich officials about having Wauconda's dispatchers considered for jobs if the Lake Zurich center expands.

The Wauconda Fire Protection District, Lakemoor police and Tower Lakes police all use Wauconda's 911 service. The agencies could follow the village to Lake Zurich or find a different service.

Running the dispatch center costs Wauconda about $673,888 annually, after fees from those other agencies and other revenues are collected, Maxeiner said.

That sum is expected to grow to an average of $836,976 over the next five years, he said.

If Lake Zurich provides 911 service, the average annual cost would be about $412,892 over the next five years, Maxeiner said.

An agreement with Lake Zurich officials must be finalized before Wauconda's board votes on outsourcing, Maxeiner said.

The contract with the dispatchers' union expired in April 2013.

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