Gurnee approves deal to take on Zion's emergency dispatching

  • Gurnee has reached a five-year deal with Zion to handle the city's 911 calls for police and fire service. Officials say the agreement, which goes into effect July 1, financially benefits both communities.

      Gurnee has reached a five-year deal with Zion to handle the city's 911 calls for police and fire service. Officials say the agreement, which goes into effect July 1, financially benefits both communities. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 

Gurnee has signed off on a five-year deal to provide emergency dispatching services to Zion, a move expected to be financially beneficial to both towns.

Dispatching consolidation has been occurring in several suburbs because of a 2015 state law dictating that a 911 operation cannot serve fewer than 25,000 residents. Compliance must occur by July 1.

Approval of the deal by Gurnee trustees last week culminated talks that began in April. Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik praised the amount of work village finance, police, fire and information systems employees put into the agreement that received Zion's approval earlier this month.

"It was nice being in front of Zion and they're looking forward to us taking good care of them, their public safety personnel and their residents," Kovarik said.

Zion will pay Gurnee a prorated share of a first-year base fee of $875,000 starting July 1 for dispatching the city's fire and police calls through April 30, 2018. The contact will run from May 1 through April 30 in each of the final four years and require payments to increase annually by 3.5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.

In addition, Zion must place roughly $160,000 it receives annually from taxpayers for emergency dispatching into a fund controlled by a new joint 911 board with Gurnee.

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Zion officials said they expect six or seven of the city's dispatchers will be hired by Gurnee.

Gurnee representatives presented their offer to the Zion 911 board in April. Officials said the village's dispatching operation is ready to grow and take on more clients such as Zion, which acknowledged a poor financial situation and an inability to upgrade 911 operations.

Elsewhere in Lake County, Lake Zurich in April added Wauconda's police and fire emergency calls to a 911 client roster that already had Hawthorn Woods, Island Lake, Kildeer and Tower Lakes on it.

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