East Dundee trustees discuss merits of PD merger
Citing upcoming police contracts, a loss of autonomy, potential coverage issues and other reasons, several East Dundee trustees are balking at the idea of consolidating their police force with the ones in West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow.
Monday night, the committee of the whole discussed a feasibility study that outlined the merits of joining forces with the other two towns. East Dundee would stand to save the most of all three towns, said William Balling, a consultant with WRB LLC, the group that created the study, between $700,000 and $1.2 million.
If the deal goes through, West Dundee would take the role of contract services provider because its services are the most advanced and its infrastructure is tied to the strongest tax base. Initially, officers from East Dundee and Sleepy Hollow would be retained, but report to a chief based in West Dundee. As those officers leave, West Dundee would replace them.
But Trustee Robert Gorman and Village President Jerry Bartels say East Dundee would have no input over hiring officers or on the merger's day-to-day operations.
"It's a political thing at that point -- one entity controls the police service," Bartels said. "The decisions that we make for East Dundee are made around this table."
Trustees also raised questions over how long the agreement should be in place, what the new entity would ultimately call itself, how police contract negotiations would fit into the model and what the police unions thought of the move.
Trustee Paul VanOstenbridge wondered if less officer coverage is really in everyone's best interest.
For example during the evenings, West Dundee has four officers on duty, while East Dundee has three and Sleepy Hollow has two on the midnight shift. The merger would put one sergeant and one officer on the street.
While Trustee Lael Miller wanted evidence East Dundee would really save between $700,000 and $1.2 million,
Trustee Robert Gorman wondered what the consequences would be if East Dundee entered into, then later decided to pull out of an agreement with West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow.
"This is a marriage that you decide you're not going to get divorced in," Gorman said. "One side gets to keep everything. There is no prenuptial agreement you can have in this."
Balling said an intergovernmental agreement would resolve most of the issues raised Monday night and said the village can create a document outlining the money it hopes to save in a proposal. He also suggests the towns sign a five-year deal authorizing the merger and spend three of those years on implementation. All three towns would need to agree on a name for the new entity, he said.
East Dundee did not make a decision at Monday night's meeting over which direction to take. Balling is due to hold similar discussions with West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow over the next couple of months.