Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 9, 2012

911 agreement in hands of county now

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — The Effingham County Board is expected to revisit the long-running intergovernmental agreement between the county, city and the county’s Emergency Telephone System (911) board at its Nov. 19 meeting.

    Thursday, the board’s Legislative Committee of the Whole agreed to accept a proposal from the 911 board to delay an increase in annual payments to the county in order to help finance an “efficiency study” that may lead to consolidation of the county’s two emergency dispatch centers.

    Under the proposal, 911 would pay the city and county the same $65,000 that has been paid since the system went online in the late 1990s. Payments would increase to $85,000 in 2014 and $86,700 in 2015.

    A similar proposal died because of a tie vote at last month’s County Board meeting. The Effingham City Council agreed to the new agreement at its Tuesday meeting.

    Board member Bob Shields said at Thursday’s meeting the board already nixed a proposal to pay about $13,000 for a third of an earlier study.

    “The county didn’t have the $13,000, but now we’re paying $20,000,” Shields said of the delayed increase.

    But 911 board member Ted Heath told the committee 911 faced a number of capital expenditures in the next several years that exceeded $1 million. That, he said, justified the delay in increased payments as part of the intergovernmental agreement.

    One problem, Heath said, is equipment vendors regularly inform his board on the pending obsolescence of their equipment. Heath wondered aloud whether existing equipment could be maintained for longer periods of time.

    “I think we have to be tough with these vendors,” he said. “But that’s why we want the consultants to come in.

    “I would like the consultants to tell us when we need to change equipment.”

    The board did not make a recommendation on the proposed agreement. Board Chairwoman Carolyn Willenburg said after the meeting that Thursday’s action simply enabled the board to put the matter on the Nov. 19 agenda.

    In other action Thursday, the board voted 5-4 to recommend a two-year extension of the county’s contract with Altamont Ambulance Inc.  Ambulance company owner Terry White said the extension would enable him to receive lower interest rates on bank loans for capital expenditures.

    White said the company, which operates both Altamont and Effingham City-County Ambulance, was in line for a $49,500 grant to defray the cost of cardiac monitors for each ambulance.

    “The extension would enable us to project equipment needs for the next several years,” he said. “We’d like to accelerate the extension process so we can go back to our bank and be loaned money at a lower interest rate.”

    The current contract expires Nov. 29, 2015. The original contract was developed after the county board designated Altamont Ambulance Inc. as the only service to receive emergency calls within the county.

    The board’s conservative bloc of David Campbell, Jim Niemann, Rob Arnold and Wayne Russell voted against the extension. Campbell said he would like more time to review the existing contract.

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