Vote on Wauconda's 911 center expected Oct. 6

  • Doug Maxeiner

    Doug Maxeiner

 
 
Updated 9/17/2015 3:31 PM

The fate of Wauconda's emergency dispatch center could finally be settled Oct. 6.

That's the day village trustees will decide if they want to shutter the center and outsource the service in a money-saving move or keep it open.

 

The current proposal calls for Wauconda police and Wauconda Fire District calls to be handled by CenCom, a 911 call center in Round Lake Beach, instead of at the police station's high-tech facility. CenCom already serves 11 police and fire departments throughout Lake County.

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

If the deal is approved, 11 dispatchers would be laid off.

Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said he hopes the village board reaches a conclusion Oct 6 -- one way or the other.

"This has taken up a considerable amount of time and I have other things I need to address besides dispatch consolidation," Maxeiner said. "In addition, the dispatchers for Wauconda need to get some answers on this so it isn't hanging over their heads any longer."

Consolidating 911 services became a big issue in town after Frank Bart was elected mayor in 2013. Bart has been the plan's leading proponent at village hall.

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"Nowhere else in our operations can we keep the service and save $300,000," he said.

No village trustees have formally endorsed the idea. But the tide started shifting toward a "yes" vote this summer after Gov. Bruce Rauner threatened to cut local shares of tax revenue.

Additionally, state lawmakers have approved legislation that calls for dispatch centers to consolidate significantly in the future.

As Trustee Ken Arnswald said in July, "Things change."

Many residents have opposed the proposal, protesting at board meetings and at the police station. But others have spoken in favor of closing the 911 center, saying village spending needs to be reduced.

Maxeiner said he doesn't recall another municipal issue that's taken so long to resolve.

"I have seen some other issues with an equally passionate stance from each side, but for a much shorter duration," he said.

The Oct. 6 meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at village hall, 101 N. Main St. Officials could move the meeting to Wauconda High School, 555 N. Main St., if they anticipate a larger-than-usual crowd.

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