Lake County task force to explore 911 consolidation

  • A Lake County task force will meet Wednesday to discuss consolidating 911 services. Nowhere has that issue stirred up more controversy than in Wauconda, where village officials may close the town's dispatch center and lay off 11 dispatchers.

      A Lake County task force will meet Wednesday to discuss consolidating 911 services. Nowhere has that issue stirred up more controversy than in Wauconda, where village officials may close the town's dispatch center and lay off 11 dispatchers. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2014

 
 
Updated 9/22/2015 7:09 PM

As Wauconda officials wrestle with a plan to shutter a local 911 dispatch center and join a regional service group, a new Lake County task force has formed to examine the issue on a broader scale.

The task force will hold its inaugural meeting Wednesday. The session is set for 3:30 p.m. at the Lake County transportation division headquarters, 600 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor is among the task force members. He supports consolidating 911 centers.

"It has been done successfully elsewhere, and I'm confident we can do it here," Lawlor said in a news release.

Other task force members include Countryside Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Steingart, former Mundelein Fire Chief Tim Sashko, Vernon Hills Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer, Round Lake Beach Mayor Rich Hill and Lake Zurich dispatcher Leah Kelly.

The group was created by the county board in August.

In Lake County, no 911 center has been in the news as much as Wauconda's. Officials and residents have squabbled over its future for more than a year.

Mayor Frank Bart and his supporters want to shut down the dispatch center, which is at the town's police station, to save money.

Opponents of consolidation say local dispatchers provide better service. They're also concerned about the 11 dispatchers who'll be laid off if the 911 center closes.

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Under the current plan, a regional organization called CenCom would handle 911 calls for Wauconda police and the Wauconda Fire District. Trustees could vote on a consolidation deal Oct. 6.

The other agencies served by Wauconda's dispatchers, the Tower Lakes and Lakemoor police departments, would need to find new service providers if the center closes.

Since Wauconda's 911 battle began, state lawmakers have approved legislation that calls for dispatch centers to consolidate significantly in the future.

Lake County's Lawlor said 911 consolidation has been a top issue since a 2014 local leadership summit.

"This presents tremendous opportunities to improve quality (and) efficiency and provide cost savings," he said.

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