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updated: 2/15/2014 7:42 PM

Protesters stage sit-in over Wauconda 911 outsourcing

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  • Protesters staged a sit-in at the Wauconda police department to challenge a proposal to shut down the village's 911 center and outsource dispatching to Lake Zurich.

      Protesters staged a sit-in at the Wauconda police department to challenge a proposal to shut down the village's 911 center and outsource dispatching to Lake Zurich.
    courtesy of Kelly Knigge Kledzik

 
 

Opponents of a proposal to scrap Wauconda's 911 center and outsource dispatching held a sit-in Saturday at the police station.

Monica Knigge, wife of former Mayor Mark Knigge, pledged to stage the protest inside the lobby of police headquarters until midnight.

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Joined by dozens of family and other residents who filed into the station since noon, Knigge challenged the cost-cutting proposal announced Friday. They held signs reading, "Safety before savings," and sang 1960s-era songs.

"There's no asking or caring about what the residents and voters want," Knigge said Saturday in a phone interview. "It's just being shoved down our throats."

Officials say closing Wauconda's 911 center and outsourcing dispatching to Lake Zurich could save $2.1 million over five years.

The recommendation by Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner comes less than four years after Wauconda officials -- led by then-Mayor Knigge -- vowed to keep 911 services in-house if voters backed a 2010 tax increase for fire-district services.

Voters signed off on the measure, and about a year later, Wauconda funneled money into upgrades and new technology for the 911 center.

Ten full-time and two part-time positions would be eliminated if the village shuts down the center. The contract with the dispatchers' union expired in April 2013.

Knigge said she values dispatchers who "know the town."

"These poor people have been working since last April without a contract," Knigge said. "They have been working under stress not knowing if they had jobs or not."

Trustees are expected to review the proposal Tuesday. The issue has sparked a Facebook page -- "SAVE the Wauconda Dispatchers" -- garnering nearly 900 "likes."

"People are upset, and so they have a right to express their opinions," Trustee Linda Starkey said Saturday.

She said she did not know the details of the plan until she read a news release Friday.

"I was shocked that we didn't get a bit of a report to know before the general public," Starkey said.

The 911 center handles calls for Wauconda's police and fire protection district, as well as Tower Lakes and Lakemoor police departments.

Mayor Frank Bart was not immediately available for comment. In the news release, Maxeiner acknowledged the dispatching positions "are not just numbers."

"They are our friends and co-workers and the prospect of implementing an outsourcing option is emotional for all involved," he said.

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