MORRIS – Officials from Minooka and Coal City traveled to the Grundy County Finance Committee Monday with hope of persuading the county to renegotiate its financial contribution for 911 dispatching services.
For the past 18 months, the 911 finance committee – a subcommittee of the Grundy County Emergency Telephone System Board (911 board) – has collected data and developed a comprehensive cost-sharing formula to determine the cost burden for the 14 agencies in the county using the newly consolidated dispatching services.
The formula was drafted into a three-year intergovernmental agreement, waiting to be signed and passed by all districts.
According to the proposed agreement, Grundy County’s payments would be static at $1.06 million for the next three years. The county only recently committed to that amount at the January board meeting after many months of negotiation.
The remaining 13 districts would pay a percentage of the total budget so their costs would increase, or decrease, in tandem with the 911 center’s total operating budget.
Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer and Mayor Pat Brennan felt the county also should have to change its contribution amount if the center spends more than expected.
“We’d like to see some stability,” Brennan said during the meeting. “Say [the budget] went up $33,000 more. We’ve got to have a budget, too. We can’t just keep bringing money out of nowhere.”
Meyer said he did not wish to change the formula or contribution rates, but wanted the county to agree to pay a percentage of extra costs incurred only if the 911 center experienced budget issues.
While no action was taken during Monday’s meeting because the item was not officially included on the agenda, several finance committee members already objected to changing the proposed agreement.
“[The Minooka] board has a choice: they either get dispatch through the Grundy County 911 system or they can go elsewhere,” committee member Dick Joyce said.
Meyer said they have not yet found a less expensive dispatching service than the agreement offered through the 911 center.
Committee chairman John Galloway said the county originally agreed to contribute $1.06 million – much more than the original $900,000 they wanted to pay – because it was assured the amount would stay static.
“We already committed and hammered out a deal where we were going to increase our yearly contribution,” Galloway said. “For doing that, if they were cost overruns in year number two, then it was agreed we would not shoulder any of that burden.”
Minooka and Coal City are the two municipalities facing the largest cost increases with the new agreement.
Before the new dispatch center was built three years ago, dispatching was free for most municipalities, including Minooka and Coal City, paid for by Grundy County.
When Morris and Grundy County dispatch consolidated their services and built the center, they entered into the first three-year intergovernmental agreement, paying the bulk of the costs and giving some of the smaller municipalities time to adjust their budgets.
According to that agreement, the county pays $1.5 million, and city of Morris $501,000, Minooka $100,000 and Coal City $50,000.
With the proposed agreement, Minooka would pay 32.8 percent or about $200,000 and Coal City would pay 14.4 percent or about $88,000, nearly doubling their contributions.
Although most members were opposed to making any changes, they said they are happy to keep open communication with the municipalities.
“We all serve the same people,” Galloway said. We respect you guys as a community and there’s nothing wrong with a healthy discussion.”