Future of Macon County, Ill., 911 Operations to be Discussed

City of Decatur may examine which governmental entity will control the emergency communication center.

by Chris Lusvardi, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill. / February 1, 2017

(TNS) - The city of Decatur is opening the door for examining which governmental entity controls the emergency communication center in Macon County.

The city council decided Monday to provide a required one-year notice of its intent to terminate terms of an intergovernmental agreement with the county. Under terms of the agreement entered into June 15, 2015, the city provides dispatching services to the Macon County Sheriff's Office and smaller police and fire departments within the county.

Since moving to a new headquarters at 707 W. South Side Drive, the city now leases space for the emergency communications center from the Decatur Public Building Commission at the Law Enforcement Center in downtown Decatur, the previous location of its offices. The lease is worth $33,372 per year.

City Manager Tim Gleason said opting out the agreement is a formality and doesn't mean anything will change in the way the center is operated.

“We are in preliminary discussions about ownership and direct operation of the services delivered,” Gleason said. “It's nothing more than discussions right now.”

The council would need to further decide if a change in ownership is warranted later on, Gleason said.

City Councilman Jerry Dawson, who has been involved with discussions as a member of the Emergency Telephone System Board and was formerly Macon County sheriff, said one possibility is having the board run it.

The nine-member board coordinates and supervises the implementation, upgrading and maintenance of the area's 911 system.

“They're the one collecting the money for 911,” Dawson said.

Decatur Police Chief Jim Getz said the goal of the discussions will be to find a deal that is best for everybody involved and share costs. Most other areas in the state are moving toward multijurisdictional operation of emergency communication centers to spread out costs, Getz said.

Macon County Sheriff Thomas Schneider said the goal is to provide the best services for citizens in the area as possible, although he said the county would have some concerns about the impact of changing ownership of the center. He wants to make sure a future deal is equitable for all involved.

“We want to come together to provide the service,” Schneider said.

Entities could eventually be required to operate joint communications centers, so Schneider said holding the discussions now could allow Macon County to move ahead before requirements are implemented.

Councilman Chris Funk voted against the city providing notice to opt out of the agreement. Funk wanted more information before feeling like he could make a different decision.


©2017 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)

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