The city of Jacksonville has reached an agreement with the village of South Jacksonville concerning dispatch services.
The city has been handling dispatching services for the village since 1978 under an agreement that South Jacksonville would maintain Nichols Park in exchange. Both sides have come to a verbal one-year agreement where the village will pay the city $90,000 for dispatching services. Jacksonville Police Chief Tony Grootens would like to use the money to hire two new dispatchers.
“We’ve needed two additional dispatchers for a long time now and we’ve been having to pay overtime to fill that void,” says Grootens. “One dispatcher will not do me any good because I want two dispatchers at the peak coverage times and all times. Hopefully, this is a move toward combined dispatch, too. I think it is.”
Aldermen will decide how to spend the money at another meeting.
The village board of trustees and city council will approve the contract at their next gatherings.
In other business, Jacksonville Senior Center president Dr. Barbara Suelter presented City Council with a petition of signatures requesting an additional day of use at the Jacksonville Community Center. She says the group would like to be able to use the building for free on Mondays in addition to Tuesdays through Thursdays.
“Our group is growing but we’re also increasing the number of activities and events that we do,” says Suelter. “We’re starting some new classes, providing more education programs and we have more people who are participating.”
Jacksonville Parks and Lakes Superintendent Bruce Surratt says while he’s a big supporter of the senior center, it would be a strain on his department’s budget. He says work typically done Monday to prepare the facility for weekly use will have to be done Sundays costing about $7,500 annually in overtime.
“And the calls that I’ve got are people just saying we’d still like that building to be the Community Park Center four days a week and just be the senior center three days,” says Surratt. “I think we’re being very generous with it. I wish we could do more but I think it should be available for others to use. Those Mondays are for some other groups that are not-for-profit here in town that would use them. Also, it’ll be booked for a funeral luncheon or a funeral dinner on a last minute Friday or Thursday booking when an unexpected death shows up.”
Surratt says the Community Center was used 9 Mondays last year. Suelter says the seniors would be willing to let other groups use it when necessary.
Alderman Steve Warmowski says there may be an opportunity to give the senior center a building of their own when the new FutureGen Visitors and Training Center is built.
“The FutureGen Center as it’s been planned is going to have rental areas,” says Warmowksi. “So maybe the different organizations that rent out the Community Park Center could move over to the FutureGen Center. That would leave the city with a building that we’re not using. Maybe that would be a good place to locate a senior center full time.”
The Parks and Lakes Committee will take up the request at a later meeting.
Also last night, City Council unanimously approved this year’s $12.6 million operating budget and the $40.1 million appropriation budget.