More on the previous post about the Village of Oak Lawn’s Emergency Communications Center from a very lengthy article in the Oak Lawn Leaf.

It appears the Village of Oak Lawn will move to outsource the 911 Emergency Dispatchers to a private company on Tuesday November 26th, despite pleas by the emergency operator’s union, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, to honor its existing contract. Oak Lawn’s Village Manager Larry Deetjen has recommended that the Village outsource the 911 emergency dispatchers to Norcomm Public Safety Communications, based in Leyden Township.   The village’s four supervisors in the department would be retained by the company.  The 20 union dispatchers would be terminated, but allowed to apply for their positions at a reduced salary.  They would also lose their pensions in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

According to Ronald Cicinelli, the attorney representing the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the Village of Oak Lawn contacted the union only 38 days after agreeing to the 2012 contract and threatened to outsource the jobs unless the union agreed to concessions because of a “financial crisis”.

Cicinelli, in response to inquiries from the Oak Lawn Leaf, said that the Village of Oak Lawn Attorneys contacted the union “saying, in essence, that the village would have to outsource dispatching services if the union did not agree to help with the dire financial situation that it had not disclosed until approving the aforementioned labor contract.”

According to Cicinelli, the union officials and village officials met and the village attached a dollar amount to the financial crisis that the village claimed totaled $1.l million dollars.  “The telecommunicators (union members) were asked to submit concessions that total $369,000.00 to help alleviate the crisis, with the remainder of the shortage being rectified by increasing the costs to the towns served by the center,” said Cicinelli…. the Village of Oak Lawn reportedly sent the other municipalities it serves through the 911 operating system, invoices with the increased costs.

The negotiations broke down further according to the union when the Village informed the union that the entire 3.8 million dollar budget would be spent by the end of July.  Cicinelli claimed that “it is obvious that cost overruns can be attributed, in part, to overtime created by supervisory personnel who no longer count as working dispatchers and the failure to replace three dispatchers who either retired or resigned.” According to Violetto’s letter, the Village’s Emergency Communications Director, Kathy Hansen requested in the last contract that the three dispatchers be called team leaders and not be counted in the manpower numbers to operate the room.  Violetto claims that the three team leaders are now administrative help to Hansen and questioned the need for three people to provide administrative help to the director.  The savings in returning the three supervisors to the manpower count would save the village $152,232.20 a year according to the union. Hansen stated department overtime through August 2013 stood at $124,855.  The union has claimed that the overtime is attributed in part to overtime created by the new supervisory personnel and the failure of the village to replace three open dispatcher positions.

At the November 6, 2013 budget meeting, Oak Lawn’s emergency communications director Kathy Hansen said that due to revenue lost from state-regulated phone surcharges as users switch to cell phones, the department is losing revenue while expenses continue to rise. Industry experts estimate that the total phones used in any municipality are split with 70% cell phone use and 30% landline use.

Currently, the telecommunications tax is only assessed on landlines.  The village received over one million dollars in the telecommunications tax last year.  If the tax is extended by the federal government as expected in the summer, the revenue to the village would exceed $2.3 million dollars thereby solving the problem. By outsourcing to Norcomm, the village claims it would save $446,000 a year for the next two years.

thanks Dan

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