By Ted Schnell • BocaJump | Feb. 22, 2012
Times are tough and the cost of providing some services is getting pricey enough that some villages and towns are working to consolidate some operations to save a buck, and that’s behind a proposal for Elgin to take over fire dispatch services for South Elgin.
Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said Monday that as part of the push to consolidate, the village of South Elgin has decided to get out of the emergency services dispatching business. The village has opted to obtain those services from Kane County.
Communities are facing increasing costs associated with the technology, as well as training and personnel needed to provide such services, and those costs are feeding the drive to consolidate, Kozal said.
The village of South Elgin’s decision has left the South Elgin and Countryside Fire Protection District looking at its own dispatch options. The district serves, as its name implies, South Elgin and the surrounding area, but it is not a unit of village government. The village has provided the dispatch services for the fire district in the past, but that contract ends April 30, according to staff documentation to the City Council, so South Elgin fire officials had to look at other options.
Kozal said the city of Elgin made an offer to provide the dispatch service to South Elgin at a cost that was lower than Kane County would have charged.
According to staff documentation on the issue, the South Elgin and Countryside Fire Protection District will pay Elgin $55,000 a year to provide fire dispatch service for the district. Kozal said the plan is doable, although some logistics may increase dispatch times a bit.
Specifically, if a South Elgin-area resident calls 911, the call would go directly to the Kane County dispatch center. If it is a police call, Kane County would dispatch an officer; if it is a call for fire department or emergency medical services, the call would be forwarded to Elgin, which then would dispatch South Elgin fire or paramedic crews.
Kozal said the city expects to be able to absorb the additional workload without hiring any additional dispatchers. South Elgin’s fire district generated 2,500 dispatches for emergency fire services in 2011, which averages about seven a day. By comparison, the administration says the Elgin Fire Department was dispatched to about 11,000 calls for service in 2011, or about 30 calls per day.
The city administration is asking the City Council for authorization to begin negotiating an intergovernmental agency agreement with the South Elgin and Countryside Fire Protection District. The contract then would come before the council for consideration.
The administration says this agreement may break the ground for Elgin to provide dispatching services to other agencies in the area as well.
The administration dispatch services fee, the administration says, will compensate the city for wages, benefits and administrative costs as follows:
- 50 percent of a telecommunicator II salary ($31,770);
- 40 percent for related benefits ($12,710);
- Administrative expenses ($10,520).