Wauconda trustees vote to pursue outsourcing 911 service

  • Wauconda 911 dispatcher Patricia Steffy talks to village board and residents Tuesday night. She will lose her job once Wauconda outsources its 911 service.

    Wauconda 911 dispatcher Patricia Steffy talks to village board and residents Tuesday night. She will lose her job once Wauconda outsources its 911 service. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted10/7/2015 5:35 AM

After more than a year of debate, protests and hand-wringing, Wauconda officials on Tuesday voted to pursue closing the town's 911 center and outsourcing the service.

The decision wasn't made easily, or unanimously. Trustees Linda Starkey and Tim Howe voted against the move, but they were outnumbered by the other four board members.

 

What organization eventually will provide the service wasn't decided, however. Village leaders have been considering joining a regional group called CenCom for the past few months, but Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner on Tuesday revealed Lake Zurich officials are interested in luring Wauconda's business.

When Wauconda began investigating outsourcing, Lake Zurich was identified as a preferred provider, but the town fell out of favor because of equipment issues and other concerns. Those issues could be resolved, Maxeiner told the board and audience during Tuesday's meeting at Wauconda High School.

Additionally, Lake Zurich has offered some "very attractive rates" to Wauconda, Maxeiner said.

Concerns about money have driven the issue from the beginning. Proponents of outsourcing, particularly Maxeiner and Mayor Frank Bart, have said the village could save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by shutting down the town's dispatch center and going elsewhere for the service.

Outsourcing will cost 11 local dispatchers their jobs. Those employees have been working under a cloud of uncertainty because of the outsourcing debate, which accelerated after Bart took office in May 2013.

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"They've been hanging in limbo for quite a while," Trustee Lincoln Knight said.

Trustee John Barbini voiced sympathy for the dispatchers but said the board had to weigh "the welfare of a few against the welfare of the many."

The vote marks a reversal for the trustees, several of whom earlier had been ardent opponents of outsourcing.

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.

"The bottom line is, consolidation is coming," Barbini said. "But we don't know what it's going to look like."

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