Wauconda Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner started his presentation about the potential outsourcing of emergency dispatch services Tuesday night by telling the audience he felt like "a Christian going in front of the lions."
The historical reference wasn't too off base. More than 200 people filled the cafeteria at Wauconda High School to hear Maxeiner's presentation, and public sentiment has been overwhelmingly against the proposal since it first surfaced two weeks ago.
But the audience members listened quietly, intently and mostly politely as Maxeiner went over his controversial proposal -- and all the factors that led to it -- in painstaking detail.
Maxeiner talked about the village's fiscal outlook, saying once again that the town will face a deficit within two years.
He also explained the fiscal benefits of outsourcing to Lake Zurich's dispatch center -- $2.1 million over five years, by his estimate.
"That's a pretty significant chunk of change for a community this size," he said.
Maxeiner also promised outsourcing is not being used to threaten the town's current dispatchers, who are represented by a labor union and now are working without a contract.
"This is not a ploy to get concessions out of the union," Maxeiner said. "We're not using that as a bargaining chip."
If the 911 center closes, 10 full-time and two part-time positions would be eliminated. Additionally, the other agencies using the center -- Wauconda Fire Protection District, and Tower Lakes and Lakemoor police departments -- also would need to find new dispatchers.
Maxeiner repeatedly stressed that he wants the police and fire department to land with the same dispatch center.
Using a slideshow to stress certain points, Maxeiner spoke for nearly two hours Tuesday.
He said the money saved by outsourcing could be used for capital improvements or other village projects.
He also addressed a question several people have raised: Why not raise money by attracting new clients to the dispatch center?
Although that could increase revenue, if the call volume increases so much that more dispatchers would need to be hired, the additional personnel costs would negate the new revenue, Maxeiner said.
Near the end of his remarks, Maxeiner compared the equipment and staffs of the two dispatch centers. He said he's confident Lake Zurich will meet Wauconda's current level of service.
Maxeiner eventually relinquished the microphone to the audience for questions. The speakers, often passionately, voiced support for the local dispatchers.
Tuesday's meeting was a committee-of-the-whole session for the village board, so the panel didn't vote on the outsourcing proposal.
That could happen next month.
If the board rejects outsourcing, negotiations with the dispatchers' union will resume, Maxeiner said.