The Grundy County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) is having discussions with Seneca police, fire and EMS, as well as Braidwood police, about handling their dispatch services.
The 9-1-1 Executive Committee of the ETSB met in a special meeting Thursday and approved a recommendation for the ETSB to move forward on discussions with the Seneca agencies. Any decisions on the amount of fees the Seneca parties will pay will go back to the executive committee.
The committee took no action regarding Braidwood, but discussed the possibility of it joining as well.
Seneca currently has its own dispatch center, said Sheriff Terry Marketti, but it is in the process of moving into a new police department and will not be moving the dispatch center into it.
Braidwood police are looking for a cheaper rate than they have with WESCOM, he said. The discussions with Braidwood are very preliminary. Chris Kindelspire, director of electronic operations, will be meeting with Braidwood officials to discuss infrastructure next week and the committee should know more in a month.
Marketti said he gave Seneca officials a "ballpark" estimate of what the dispatch services could cost, but he did not share that number publicly with the committee and would not comment on it after the meeting, stating the agencies had to discuss it with their board first.
Seneca's administrators did ask Marketti if the Grundy ETSB could take on some of Seneca's dispatchers, said Marketti, but he told them ETSB was not in need of new staff right now.
Calls to Seneca officials were not returned by press time.
Marketti said later it was not known if, with Seneca's calls, dispatch would need more personnel and that couldn't be known until Seneca police, fire and EMS were on board.
"The amount of money we generate from them can help offset future expenses for dispatch services," Marketti said.
Marketti said any contributions from Seneca agencies or Braidwood police would not change the current amount of contributions from the 13 other agencies because those numbers have been set for the next three years. But the numbers will change in the long run.
"There's nothing wrong with having a cushion, and if that cushion allows the fees to go down after the three years, than so be it," Marketti said.
Morris Police Chief Brent Dite asked how Seneca and Braidwood's infrastructure costs would be paid and Marketti said the new agencies have to pay for their own equipment and infrastructure.
If an agreement progresses forward with Seneca, there currently is no tentative start date, but Marketti said he believes the sooner the better. A sub-committee of the executive committee will need to meet to discuss rates for new agencies and to work on rates for after the three-year agreement.
"We have to pay attention that they are coming in for one reason, to save money. So we need to make it worthwhile for them to get here," said Marketti, adding the sub-committee also had to keep in mind the new agencies' have infrastructure costs to join Grundy's dispatch system.
The intergovernmental agreement for all of the county's agencies set to receive dispatch services from the new center begins May 1. All of the bodies have signed on except for Braceville and Mazon fire departments, both of which are expected to do so at special meetings being called before May 1.
Currently, the newly constructed dispatch center is operating, but the dispatchers are working as separate entities in the center. Morris’ dispatchers are still Morris employees, and Grundy dispatchers are the sheriff’s employees. With the new three-year agreement, the ETSB and all of the county’s participating agencies would have an agreement for dispatch services from the dispatchers as one entity of the ETSB.
The agencies will each pay a different amount for the services, but Morris and Grundy County are paying the bulk since their budgets are prepared for the costs since they always paid for dispatch services. The other Grundy agencies were not paying Grundy for services before.
Earlier this month Morris fire had some concerns with the agreement, but ended up passing it in a special meeting with some clarifications.
The regular meeting of the executive committee will by May 3.