Archive for November 19th, 2013

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Village of Oak Lawn considers outsourcing dispatching

An article in the Oak Lawn Patch outlines Oak Lawn officials looking to close their emergency communications center and contract with NORCOMM:

Oak Lawn’s village officials appear to be moving full steam ahead in shopping for a private contractor to take over the Oak Lawn’s Emergency Communications Center.

A not unexpected bombshell at the Nov. 6 special budget meeting was a proposal to outsource the village’s 911 emergency dispatchers. The move would retain managers but 20 civilian police jobs that are currently under a union contract would be outsourced.

Oak Lawn’s emergency communications director Kathy Hansen said that due to revenue lost from state-regulated hardline surcharges as users switch to cell phones, the department is losing revenue while expenses continue to rise.

In addition to Oak Lawn, the village’s emergency communications center also dispatches 911 calls for five police departments and ten fire departments in the south suburbs.

The village has set its sights on Norcomm Public Safety Communications, based in Leyden Township. The company was established in 1994 as Illinois’s first 911 call center serving police, fire, and emergency medical dispatch for municipalities and fire districts.

By outsourcing to Norcomm, the village would save $893,000 over the next two years that could be reinvested in mandated next-generation technologies, such as the ability to receive emergency text messages, Hansen said.

The company would also lease Oak Lawn’s state-of-the-art emergency center, bringing in additional revenue.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen added that Norcomm offers a competitive wage and benefits package, and there would more opportunities for advancement.

Oak Lawn’s emergency dispatchers would get first dibs interviewing and competing with other applicants for their current jobs. Instead of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police’s union pension plan, the privatized dispatchers would participate in Norcomm’s corporate pension plan.

“I would suspect a good number of those 20 slots would want to continue, even though it’s another company,” Deetjen said. “They’ll have the same work site and same uniforms. The benefits are competitive.”

Hansen stated department overtime through August 2013 stood at $124,855, with $55,000 going to one individual.

Without overtime, the top-paid emergency dispatchers earned in the $69,000 range. Hansen also told village board members to add 40-percent in benefits to those salaries, or approximately $28,000.

Hansen explained the savings came from different salary and benefit packages for employees.

“They’re more market driven and comparable to other dispatch centers around us and we would have more dispatchers,” she said.

Deetjen added that Oak Lawn has been paying roughly 55 percent of the costs to run the emergency dispatch center, but under the new format, “Oak Lawn’s real fair share would be 45 percent.”

Deetjen also added, that “the door is always open” to union leadership should emergency dispatchers desire to continue negotiations to helping rein in expenses, including forging salary increases and other adjustments to keep their jobs.

“It’s a free market out there and [communities] are talking to other potential servers,” Deetjent said, “including other competing centers and private vendors like Norcomm.”

thanks Dan

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