Wauconda delays controversial decision to outsource 911 service

Wauconda trustees on Tuesday delayed moving forward with controversial plans to shutter the town's 911 center and outsource dispatching to a Lake County group.

Too many questions about the proposal to join a Round Lake Beach-based organization called CenCom need answers, Trustee Tim Howe said, and that means that it's too soon to vote.

“This is a big decision,” Howe said during a long discussion Tuesday night at Wauconda High School. “And it's delinquent of us not to get all the answers.”

Other trustees wanted time to investigate the proposal more, too. Trustee John Barbini said he'd like the board to decide the issue by Oct. 6, and the board supported that timetable.

Mayor Frank Bart has championed closing the 911 center since he was elected two years ago.

CenCom has become the focus of the village's outsourcing talk. It handles dispatch services for 11 public safety agencies in Lake County.

Going with CenCom could save Wauconda up to $300,000 annually, officials have said.

“This is really a budgetary matter,” Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said Tuesday.

If Wauconda's dispatch center closes, 11 employees face layoffs. Those dispatchers would get preferential consideration if CenCom expands its staff, village officials have said.

The Wauconda Police Department isn't the only agency that could be affected. Because the Wauconda Fire District and the Tower Lakes and Lakemoor police departments pay Wauconda to handle their 911 calls, those agencies would need to find a new provider, too.

More than a dozen Wauconda-area residents shared their opinions on the plan during a public comment portion at the start of Tuesday's meeting. Several urged speedy action.

“Get on with it,” Wauconda resident Pat Deles said. “Make a decision.”

A few audience members criticized Bart for participating in a conference call about the outsourcing plan Monday night. That conversation was organized and funded by a conservative political group called the Illinois Opportunity Project and onetime state House candidate Danielle Rowe.

The invitation-only conversation — widely lambasted by Bart's political critics on Facebook — was privately funded and didn't involve village equipment, Maxeiner said.

Maxeiner said he was invited to participate in the discussion but declined.

None of the trustees were invited to participate. Rowe said the calls inviting participation were based on voter-registration records.

Some audience members spoke out of turn or got rowdy Tuesday. Bart threatened to have a few removed, but that action wasn't necessary.

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