[cifnmedia] 911 battle over dispatch centers

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 10:43:25 -0700 (PDT)

Local News 

911 battle over dispatch centers rages on

The chairman of the Effingham County Emergency Telephone System Board's 2 vs. 1 
PSAP ad hoc committee will soon be visiting the county board and city council 
in an effort to reduce expenses for 911.

Following a vigorous discussion, committee members agreed to have Bob Schultz, 
chairman of the ad hoc committee, address the two entities in an effort to 
reduce their reliance on 911 funding for the operation and maintenance of the 
call answering centers located at the Effingham County Sheriff's Department and 
Effingham Police Department.

Under the existing contracts, the ETSB pays $65,000 to each entity a year for 
personnel expenses, 100 percent of needed 911 equipment and costs of training 
for 911 personnel.

However, committee members John Loy, Effingham County chief deputy, and Mike 
Schutzbach, Effingham police chief, both commented that although the costs of 
all 911 training is built into the contracts, the county and city have been 
bearing the burden of most of those expenses.

Both Loy and Schutzbach also said that although 911 pays $65,000 to each entity 
for 911 personnel expenses, that amount does not cover the total cost of 
manning the two call centers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The existing contracts with the county and city expire in 2006, a year and a 
half away. But, Schultz contends the discussion of reducing funding needs to 
begin now so the county and city can plan to work it into their budgets.

However, since the city and county are both working with constricting budgets, 
their willingness to take on additional expense regarding the operation of the 
911 call centers may be an uphill battle.

Effingham County residential telephone customers presently pay a $2.75 per 
month surcharge to fund 911.

Schultz contends something has to be done to reduce the 911 financial burden, 
and if the county and city are unwilling to help bear the costs, the issue of 
keeping both call centers may have to go before the voters.

"The public would love to have that decision," said Schultz. "My perception 
from talking to people is that they're not opposed to two PSAPs, but they want 
fiscal responsibility."

"We have two great (911) backups that help each other out. I don't know how you 
could get a better deal than that," said Tina Daniels, supervisor of the 
telecommunicators for the county, regarding the quality of service the call 
centers provide to the area.

"There is no question we have two great centers," said Schultz. "We're looking 
at shared responsibility from the city and county."

Following the committee meeting, the ETSB was informed that Butch Mounteer 
planned to resign from the 911 board. Although he has not formally handed in 
his resignation, it will be effective immediately.


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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