Wauconda approves 911 dispatch deal with Lake Zurich

  • Wauconda dispatcher Joel Haerle handles a call. Village officials are planning to shut down the dispatch center at the police station and outsource the service to Lake Zurich.

      Wauconda dispatcher Joel Haerle handles a call. Village officials are planning to shut down the dispatch center at the police station and outsource the service to Lake Zurich. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • Wauconda officials are planning to shutter the dispatch center at the police station.

      Wauconda officials are planning to shutter the dispatch center at the police station. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/16/2016 7:44 PM

Out-of-town dispatchers will begin handling Wauconda's 911 calls this spring under a controversial pact approved by the village board Tuesday night.

Trustees approved a four-year contract with neighboring Lake Zurich for the service. Lake Zurich trustees must ratify it, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The contract all but caps more than two years of planning, public debates and occasional community protests focusing on the proposed mothballing of Wauconda's 911 center.

A separate agreement between the Wauconda Fire District and Lake Zurich is pending. The fire district board has approved the contract in broad strokes, but some details need to be finalized, Chief Mike Wahl said.

The fire district currently uses Wauconda's dispatch center to handle its calls.

According to the village's deal, Lake Zurich's 911 center will provide around-the-clock dispatch services for Wauconda's police department. It will also field calls for after-hours public works emergencies in Wauconda.

After the first four-year period, the contract automatically will renew every five years unless either town opts to end the agreement.

The service is expected to cost Wauconda more than $219,000 the first year, Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said. Handling calls in-house costs the village more than $750,000 annually now, Maxeiner said.

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The subsequent annual fees will depend on call volume, Maxeiner said.

If everything goes according to plan, Lake Zurich should begin handling Wauconda's 911 calls May 11, Maxeiner said.

Wauconda officials began moving toward consolidation in 2013. Mayor Frank Bart championed the issue, saying it would save the town money.

The move was protested by residents and merchants who didn't want to see Wauconda's 911 center close and its 11 employees laid off.

Island Lake resident and Wauconda business owner Jessica LoBue spoke against the plan Tuesday night before the vote at village hall. She questioned the cost and quality of Lake Zurich's service and said Lake Zurich officials have no investment in Wauconda "other than adding to their bottom line."

The Lake Zurich dispatch center is at the town's police station. It already handles calls for six Lake County departments.

Steve Husak, Lake Zurich's police chief and interim village manager, said the deal helps solidify his town's facility as a premier dispatch center in southwestern Lake County.

Husak also noted the Wauconda deal is wrapping up ahead of an expected state mandate for police and fire departments to consolidate 911 centers. Consolidating now allows the Wauconda police and fire departments to "control their own destinies," he said.

After a brief discussion about elements of the contract, the Wauconda board approved the deal without opposition. Trustee Ken Arnswald was absent.

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