Posts Tagged cost of consolidating emergency dispatch services

State mandated consolidation of 911 dispatch centers

Excerpts from the

Statewide consolidation of 911 emergency systems has been touted by supporters, including Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office, as a good thing, but leaders in Madison County aren’t so sure.

Numerous fire and police chiefs in the county have pushed back against the idea that consolidating individual systems to one statewide, comprehensive system — an effort that will force Madison County to reduce the number of public safety answering points (PSAPs) from 16 to eight — will create a better experience for residents. On the contrary, many local leaders see the effort as a move that will hurt both public safety and their departments’ bottom lines.

Illinois Public Act 099-0006 went into effect Jan. 1, 2016, giving the newly created Office of the Statewide 9-1-1 Administrator the task of developing, implementing, and overseeing a uniform statewide 911 system for all areas of the state outside of municipalities having a population over 500,000. Only Chicago is exempt from the statewide system.

As part of the state takeover, counties with more than 250,000 residents were ordered to put together a consolidation plan that would cut the number of PSAPs in their county by 50 percent. Earlier this year, Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rauner’s office, told the Belleville News-Democrat that consolidation was good for the state.

“Consolidation makes government more efficient and better uses taxpayer dollars, and this bill accomplishes that while increasing public safety,” Kelly told BND in February.

County leaders disagree. In 1989, Madison County residents voted to establish a 67-cent surcharge on phone lines that helps fund the county’s 911 system. In recent years, the county has worked to establish its Next Generation 911 system — an Internet Protocol (IP)-based system that allows digital information (e.g., voice, photos, videos, text messages) to flow seamlessly from the public, through the 911 network, and on to emergency personnel —which Madison County 9-1-1 Coordinator Terence McFarland called “state of the art.”

“From a public safety standpoint, we have a very good system right now,” East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood said. “When people pick up the phone and they call 911, we get calls very efficiently and effectively to them.

The financial aspect of consolidating PSAPs has also created questions among police and fire chiefs in the county. Approximately 225 dispatchers are employed throughout the county’s 16 PSAPs, all of which are located within police department headquarters. Consolidation to a 911 center that dispatches calls for multiple municipalities would possibly include the loss of some jobs.

But Wood River Police Chief Otis Steward said dispatchers’ jobs extend beyond simply directing police officers or firefighters to locations. In Wood River, dispatchers also monitor prisoners in the city’s jail, enter warrants and more.

“(Dispatching) probably accounts for five percent of what they do,” Steward said. “So, we are not going to give up our dispatch to somewhere else, so when a citizen comes into our police department we have no one sitting there. If you’re willing to give up your dispatch to go to a consolidated center, then that’s fine. We are keeping our dispatch.”

Currently, dispatchers are paid by the city or department that employs them. The equipment, including computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems and geographic information system (GIS) mapping, is paid for by the 911 phone surcharge.

If other police departments likewise keep their dispatchers — Bethalto Lt. Craig Welch and East Alton Chief Darren Carlton are among those who have also expressed an unwillingness to part with dispatchers in the event they lose their PSAP in consolidation — the effort would actually result in an increase in personnel costs. On whom that added cost would fall is among the questions local leaders have asked of state personnel, with little clarity.

As part of creating the statewide system, counties had until this past Thursday to submit consolidation plans or apply for a waiver for exemption for a period of time or, in some cases, permanently.

The Madison County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) submitted a waiver asking for an additional year past the July 1, 2017 deadline for consolidation to be completed. The waiver will be reviewed by the Office of the Statewide 9-1-1 Administrator and will be granted or denied within 90 days of the request.

In the meantime, ETSB is planning to commission a study to better understand the feasibility of consolidation options. Per the waiver, the independent study will also examine the collective bargaining agreements between various communities and their employees, dispatch center improvement and impact costs, and more.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Another municipality to outsource emergency dispatch services

My has an article about a decision to outsource the emergency dispatch for police and fire in Bolingbrook:

Bolingbrook’s police and fire dispatch services will be outsourced this fall.

The Bolingbrook Village Board voted Tuesday to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Western Will County Communication Center (WESCOM) to take over the services, a move officials say will net the village a savings of $319,000 annually. WESCOM, considered a unit of local government, is a consolidated dispatch service with 19 member agencies across three counties, primarily Will County.

In addition to the savings, WESCOM offers better technology and a larger staff in the event of critical incidents, officials said. The move also follows the State of Illinois’ pro-consolidation stance, according to Bolingbrook Deputy Police Chief Tom Ross.

The agreement calls for the Village of Bolingbrook to pay WESCOM $1.13 million for its first year of membership. That figure is based on a projected number of calls the police and fire departments receive annually. The following years’ fees will be based on call volume as well.

Bolingbrook’s 14 full-time dispatchers and two supervisors will be offered jobs at WESCOM, according to Steve Rauter, executive director of WESCOM.

“We’ve outstretched our hand to take as many of them as Bolingbrook can provide,” Rauter said. “We haven’t heard from all of them yet but several have applied and they seem pretty excited to be coming here.” Any Bolingbrook employees hired on at WESCOM would bring accruals with them, Rauter said, including longevity level for salary purposes, years toward pension and some comp time.

Both entities’ employees are represented by unions. Currently, the 16 Bolingbrook dispatch employees are represented by AFSCME Council 31. WESCOM employees are represented by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police.

thanks Ron

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Glenview to take over other towns (more)

The Chicago Tribune has an article about the new dispatching services for Highland Park:

Before last week, Highland Park City Council members said, they believed they would save upward of $250,000 a year by consolidating emergency dispatch services with Glenview.

But recently they were shocked to learn they might not save money at all. At a recent meeting, Finance Director Nikki Larson said the savings looked more like $5,000 over five years given the latest cost estimates from Glenview – and undetermined variables in service could actually wind up costing Highland Park more.

“Basically, it would cost us more to consolidate?” Mayor Nancy Rotering asked Larson. “As it stands today – yes,” Larson replied. “That makes no sense,” Rotering said.

After that meeting, Highland Park and Glenview officials seemed both befuddled and a bit miffed by what exactly happened to those projected savings. But Highland Park will continue to attempt a negotiation with Glenview that will make sense for all parties involved, officials said, while also considering other consolidation options.

In January, the City Council approved entering into negotiations with Glenview, which was to handle police and fire dispatch services for Highland Park, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, while operating out of the Highland Park police station. Like other shared services among municipalities, the idea was to save money while maintaining high levels of service. The consolidation was initially projected to save Highland Park, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff a combined $4.5 million over five years.

Matrix Consulting Group, a public safety consulting firm, conducted a study of various cost-saving scenarios and presented findings to officials from the four towns in December.

At [ a] recent meeting, City Manager David Knapp explained that some of [a] $1.1 million [funding] request is a result of necessary technology improvements that would be needed with or without consolidation. He also said it’s possible that Matrix overestimated savings and Glenview underestimated costs.

Brent Reynolds, Glenview’s director of public safety support services, said he was “uncomfortable” with the notion that Glenview’s numbers have somehow changed. But additional technology enhancements were added into the cost based on previous discussions with Highland Park, Reynolds said.

About $354,000 in improvements were added in for Highland Park’s share of the cost to upgrade the radio system infrastructure, Reynolds said, adding “dual redundancy dispatch equipment” and effectively allowing the dispatch centers in Highland Park and Glenview to back each other up seamlessly.

Based on the consolidation formula, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Highwood would share an additional $354,000 of the improvement costs, Reynolds said, and Glenview would pay about $416,000.

In Lake Forest, Deputy Police Chief Karl Walldorf said the city is still in negotiations as to how much it would pay Glenview for taking on the duties, but initial figures predict Lake Forest will save about $1.9 million over five years.

That number doesn’t include the savings Lake Forest would realize if it doesn’t have to upgrade antiquated dispatch radio equipment, Walldorf said.

Earlier articles on the consolidation are HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Tags: , , , , , , ,