Barrington Hills rejects plan to change 911 service, for now
The Barrington Hills village board Monday night rejected a proposal to outsource the village's emergency dispatch operations to a Carpentersville-based 911 center, citing a need for more information, although the plan has been discussed for nearly two years.
Village President Martin McLaughlin said village consultants who looked over the proposal said the move would save the village $3 million over 10 years.
The board voted 4-2 against the proposal. Several of those who voted against the plan cited a need for more information about the affects of switching to QuadCom, which provides service to South Barrington, East Dundee, West Dundee, Sleepy Hollow and other nearby communities.
McLaughlin said the village has been talking about the proposed switch since May 2013.
"Now we've gotten to the point where we are pushing it well beyond where we thought for a timeline," McLaughlin said after the meeting. "You've gotta make a decision. These are tough jobs and you've got to make the best decision with the best information possible."
Trustee Michael Harrington, who voted against the proposal, said he supports creating a panel to investigate the decision further.
Police Chief Rich Semelsberger said he understood the board's decision, but said time is of the essence. The department's radio system operates off Windows XP operating systems, which are not supported by Microsoft any longer, he said. The cost to upgrade their equipment on their own would be about $275,000, Semelsberger said.
"That's why this is such a big decision, and rightfully so, that the board is doing their due diligence to make a decision," Semelsberger said.
Currently, the village employs six police assistants who handle 911 calls and other administrative duties. Semelsberger said as many as four of those employees could lose their jobs if the village goes with QuadCom, and they need to know if they need to start looking for work.
Trustee Karen Selman, who voted against the proposal, said having its own dispatch center is something that makes Barrington Hills unique from other communities.
"We wanted to have our own identity because we thought we were that different, this is part of it," Selman said. "Is it more expensive? Yes it is, but if our residents are willing to pay for that, for a more individualized service, then I think we should pay for that."
Trustee Joe Messer, who voted in favor of the outsourcing, said it was an easy business decision.
"I'm not hearing anyone tell me that there's a problem with QuadCom," Messer said.
Beth Heitkamp, the director of QuadCom, said she understood the board's decision to do their due diligence, and doesn't think Monday's vote closes the door on future consolidation.
"I think the door has just kind of been wedged a little bit," Heitkamp said.