Wauconda could have dispatch deal ready next month

  • Wauconda officials are preparing to shut down the village's 911 dispatch center and hire Lake Zurich to handle the task.

      Wauconda officials are preparing to shut down the village's 911 dispatch center and hire Lake Zurich to handle the task. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer 2014

  • Doug Maxeiner

    Doug Maxeiner

 
 
Updated 1/21/2016 3:53 PM

A deal to have Lake Zurich dispatchers handle Wauconda's 911 calls could be ready for a vote in February, officials said.

If the pact is signed as planned, Lake Zurich could take over dispatching for Wauconda's police officers and firefighters as soon as mid-May, Wauconda Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Representatives of the two towns have reached "conceptual agreement" but must finalize some details, Maxeiner said.

"(The) agreement is progressing through some positive discussions with Lake Zurich," he said.

Among the points to be ironed out are performance standards for the Lake Zurich dispatchers, who operate out of the village police station and handle calls for six Lake County departments.

They're also working on a clause that would allow Wauconda to end the deal if officials are unhappy with service.

An early draft would require Wauconda officials to give 18 months notice to cancel the contract. Maxeiner wants to shorten that time frame.

Even though a deal isn't in place, Wauconda and Lake Zurich officials have begun planning for the partnership. So has the Wauconda Fire Protection District, which intends to join whatever 911 service Wauconda chooses.

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Lake Zurich officials are updating their phone systems and emergency radio system ahead of the deal, Maxeiner said. Wauconda police are updating their radios to ensure they work with Lake Zurich's system, too, he said.

Lake Zurich Police Chief Steve Husak, who also has been serving as interim village manager, supports the move.

"Bringing in the Wauconda Police Department and the Wauconda Fire District makes sense for them based on location," Husak said. "Our fire departments and districts deal with each other regularly based on mutual aid agreements, and both police departments deal with traffic issues on Route 12."

Wauconda trustees voted in October to shutter the town's dispatch center in a cost-savings move. Eleven employees will be laid off.

Wauconda officials are negotiating a separation deal with the dispatchers' labor union, Maxeiner said. They're scheduled to meet again in about a week, he said.

The vote to outsource followed more than a year of often-heated debate. Many Wauconda residents opposed the move, voicing concern about the quality of outsourced service and the fate of the dispatchers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But proponents of the change, especially Mayor Frank Bart, said Wauconda needs to trim spending. Officials also noted a growing trend toward consolidated dispatching in Illinois.

"I think it should have been done decades ago, honestly," Bart said.

Wauconda handles 911 calls for the Tower Lakes and Lakemoor police departments. Tower Lakes is jumping to Lake Zurich, too, but Lakemoor officials haven't yet announced their plans.

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