Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 9, 2013

911 board approves next step in study process

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — The Effingham County Emergency Telephone System (911) board is distributing a request for proposal for an efficiency study now that it has approved the final version of the request.

The board voted 7-0-1 Tuesday to approve the six-page RFP. Board member John Loy abstained from voting, while board member Mike Schutzbach was absent.

A committee under the direction of board member Norbert Soltwedel has been developing the request for several weeks. Soltwedel said after the meeting the request itself is not the most important part of the process.

"The critical matter will be what is reported back by the people who do the study," Soltwedel said.

Systems manager Jodi Moomaw said the RFP will be posted on the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) website. Bids are tentatively due in time for the board to make a decision at its March 12 meeting, but Moomaw said Tuesday that date could change.

The selected consultant would appear before the board at its April 9 meeting for an oral presentation. The board would then award a contract at its May 14 meeting.

Whoever is chosen by the board to complete the study will be directed to "develop a recommended 911 system serving Effingham County that considers the legislated mandates, local needs, operational realities and available budgets," according to the RFP.

Tasks will include meeting with a number of on-site visits, primarily with area fire protection districts, but also with municipal fire and police departments within the county.

The vendor will also study various consolidation models with an eye toward potentially merging the county's two emergency dispatch centers. Consolidation was the original reason for the study after some Effingham city commissioners questioned why the county needed two dispatch centers -- and whether the long-term savings of being consolidated would outweigh the short-term costs of consolidation.

Dispatch centers at both the Effingham Police Department and Effingham County Sheriff's Department were set up when the system was first activated in 1997 because of a turf war between city and county police officials.

Other topics for the study include call volume, staffing levels, cost estimates, training programs and funding mechanisms -- and political feasibility.

Under political feasibility, the vendor will be charged with providing "an accurate measure of the current political environment." In addition, the vendor will survey individuals and groups to determine the potential success of consolidation efforts, as well as study the current makeup of the board and determine whether any changes are needed.

Also Tuesday, the board agreed to send both dispatch center supervisors and four telecommunicators to the annual Mutual Aid Box Alarm System conference for dispatch personnel in Springfield for $660 in conference fees.

Also at the meeting, information technology specialist Jason Repking told the board Tuesday 911 had its own Internet domain at www.911effinghamcounty.org. Repking said information would be added to the site as it was made available.

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