Severance deals for Wauconda dispatchers approved

  • Wauconda dispatcher Joel Haerle handles a call Tuesday night. Village officials plan to shut down the dispatch center, and they approved severance packages for the employees this week.

      Wauconda dispatcher Joel Haerle handles a call Tuesday night. Village officials plan to shut down the dispatch center, and they approved severance packages for the employees this week. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

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

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

 
 
Updated 2/17/2016 2:22 PM

A severance deal has been approved for the Wauconda police dispatchers who will lose their jobs when the town's 911 center closes this spring.

In addition to whatever pay they're owed, qualified employees will receive $3,500 payouts and money for accrued sick time and vacation time, among other benefits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We've worked out what we believe is a fair and equitable transition severance agreement for them to try to get them to the next stage of their life," Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said. "Hopefully they'll land on their feet fairly quickly."

The village board approved the proposal without opposition Tuesday night after a closed-door discussion. Trustee Ken Arnswald was absent.

Wauconda officials are shutting down the dispatch center and hiring Lake Zurich to handle the town's police calls in a money-saving move. Eleven dispatchers will lose their jobs.

The switch is expected to occur May 11.

The severance deal was negotiated between Wauconda officials and the dispatchers' labor union, the Fraternal Order of Police. A union representative couldn't be reached for comment on the pact.

The deal will be offered to dispatchers who use fewer than four sick days in the 75 days before the center's closure. An employee with a valid doctor's excuse for four or more sick days may be considered eligible at Maxeiner's discretion.

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In addition to their usual wages and the $3,500 payout, qualified employees will receive:

• Ten hours of pay for every year they were employed by Wauconda as a dispatcher.

• Payment for up to 250 hours of accrued sick time.

• Payment for all unused vacation time.

• Payment for all accrued personal time.

Additionally, qualified employees may continue to participate in the village's health, dental and life insurance plans for up to six months. Eligible employees who have declined health insurance through the village because they have other coverage will receive $750.

Outplacement services will be offered to all employees for six months, regardless of whether they qualify for the other severance benefits.

Village officials also agreed to "make every effort" to ensure Wauconda's dispatchers are considered first for testing or job openings in the Lake Zurich 911 center.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Lake Zurich Police Chief Steve Husak, who also serves as interim village manager, said officials in his town plan to hire one additional dispatcher because of the service expansion.

"Hopefully (it will be) someone from Wauconda," Husak said.

Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart estimated the severance packages will cost the village more than $180,000.

"Though we are under no legal obligation to provide any severance ... we justify spending over $180,000 (in) taxpayer dollars because we have a moral obligation to assist the dispatchers and their families in making this difficult transition," Bart said.

Wauconda officials began investigating outsourcing 911 services more than two years ago. The dispatchers' professional fates were unclear until the board voted last fall to shut down the 911 center.

Trustee Tim Howe, who opposed shuttering the dispatch center but approved the severance deal, praised the employees for "continuing to serve at the highest level" despite two years of professional upheaval.

"I'm sure it's small comfort to them, and (I) wish they hadn't been put through all of this," Howe said.

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