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911 committee recommends new dispatch agreement to full board

MORRIS – After lengthy discussion on numerous points, most coming from Minooka, the 911 board’s executive committee Wednesday approved a recommendation to its full board for a new agreement for dispatch services for local agencies.

The Emergency Telephone System Board (also known as the 911 board) Executive Committee met to further hash out details of the second intergovernmental agreement. The agreement determines the cost burden for the 14 agencies using the newly-consolidated Grundy County dispatching services.

Minor changes to the agreement were recommended, allowing agencies to leave the dispatching co-op at any time as long as they provide six months notice. The committee also agreed to amend a section of the contract outlining the history of contract negotiations.

The changes received a positive recommendation to the full 911 board, which is scheduled to vote on them at its next meeting.

Representatives from Minooka pushed to include the exit clause because the municipality may want to drop out of the agreement in future years, Minooka Administrator Dan Duffy said.

“I’m not saying we’re going to leave tomorrow or anything,” Duffy said. “We’re just asking to limit our exposure if we, or any of us, do decide to leave.”

Duffy proposed further changing current language that requires the parting agency to reimburse the board for the cost of decommissioning equipment and other costs related to leaving, including any professional services that may be required.

Duffy said the village felt that language was too open-ended.

“My attorney looks at that language, and a red flag goes up,” he said. “They see an open checkbook.”

Despite Minooka’s protest, the language was left as is.

Minooka also proposed extending the contract from a three-year agreement to a seven-year agreement in an effort to achieve “long-term stability” for all parties involved, Duffy said.

The proposed extension was shot down by the committee.

Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick argued to leave the contract up for reevaluation every few years to give the agencies, namely Grundy County, a chance to adjust their financial contributions.

The first agreement was signed three years ago, when Morris dispatch and Grundy County dispatch consolidated their services and a new dispatch center was built.

When the center was built, Morris and Grundy County entered into a three-year agreement. They took on the bulk of the cost since both parties previously paid for dispatch operations and the agencies previously receiving services for free needed time to adjust their budgets.

With the new agreement, the county would be locked in at a fixed payment of $1.06 million per year while every other agency is contributing a percentage of the total costs, meaning their payments will fluctuate each year.

Kopczick said the shorter, three-year contract gives the board a window to approach the county and ask them to switch to a prorated share like every other agency.

“I understand the concept of long-term stability, and I agree with you, but I don’t think it’s the time for it,” Kopczick said.

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