Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

October 10, 2012

911 study finally gets green light

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Consolidation of the two Effingham County emergency dispatch centers has been the proverbial 900-pound gorilla since the county’s 911 system went online nearly 15 years ago.

    Two requests for proposals have been prepared in the last 10 years, but a complete study has never been performed.

    Tuesday, the 911 board voted unanimously to authorize a third RFP for a study that would cost no more than $65,000. The study would include the cost of consolidating the two dispatch centers, a cost that has unofficially been estimated at more than $1 million.

    Board chairman Nick Althoff said after Tuesday’s meeting the study was “long overdue.”

    “We need an outsider to tell us how efficient we are,” Althoff said. “We’re not going to have these answers until we get it done.”

    Althoff formed an ad hoc committee Tuesday to prepare the RFP. The new committee has a slightly different makeup than the committee charged with determining the need for an RFP.

    Norbert Soltwedel will chair the new committee. He will be joined by Althoff, board members Russ Thomas and Ted Heath, 911 systems manager Jodi Moomaw and county dispatch supervisor Tina Daniels.

    Althoff said Heath would represent the public on the committee, while Thomas was tabbed for his knowledge of emergency management issues.

    “I think we have a good cross-section on the committee,” the chairman said.

    The board passed a preliminary budget Tuesday that accounts for the $65,000 potentially needed for the study. Treasurer Mike Schutzbach said the study would be partially funded by holding off on an initiative to raise the $65,000 annual fee that 911 pays the city and county to answer emergency calls. Instead, that fee would be raised to $85,000 for the 2014 fiscal year.

    Other than money for the study, the proposed budget has few changes from this year’s budget. Schutzbach said the proposed budget will see expenses of $583,656 more than offset by revenues of $610,100, for a surplus of $26,444.

    The board will consider a final budget at its Nov. 13 meeting.

    In other action Tuesday, the board approved a request from information technology specialist Jason Repking to buy a sonic wall for $836.39 to protect the 911 system from viruses and computer spam. Repking said dispatchers will still be able to access important websites without risking an infection.

    “It’s a good thing to have,” he said.

    Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.