County 911 board makes offer on combined dispatch

By Gary Scott on September 30, 2015 at 1:53pm

Members of the Jacksonville Public Protection Committee got an update on talks about a combined dispatch center this morning.

An unofficial vote of confidence was given by aldermen in June to the idea of combining the city police department, sheriff’s department and Passavant Area Hospital dispatch centers, which had been previously been talked about by the Morgan County 911.

In a new development, county emergency services director Phil McCarty says the 911 board will contribute 60 percent of all revenue generated from 911 calls- about $70,000 a year- in addition to budgeting $480,000 for the 2016 fiscal year towards the implementation of the new dispatch center.

The total estimated cost for the new center would be about $688,000 next year. It would jump to $805,000 in 2017, and by 2020, up to about $856,000.

McCarty proposed the new center be built in the old Prairie Council on Aging room in the municipal building, adjacent to the current Jacksonville Police Department dispatch center.

“Our goal here is in the beginning of 2016, we start the process of construction and remodeling downstairs in City Hall for a new dispatch center that will house the Morgan County Sheriff’s Dispatch, countywide fire, 911, the City of Jacksonville, as well as EMS,” says McCarty.

“So, essentially, the joint dispatch center will be started hopefully in January 1 of 2016, and that year will be the buildout: build a policy procedure, and to be ready to take off late 2016- at the latest, January 1 of 2017- to move to total full consolidated center.”

McCarty says it’s undetermined right now how a new dispatch center would affect employees of the three dispatch centers currently operating.

“Our A-number-one goal is to take care of the employees that we have right now. We don’t want to lay off; we don’t want to fire people. They’re in the position, they’ve got the training,” he says. “We want to harvest that and use that as a foundation moving forward.”

McCarty also explained that the 911 board has proposed a new executive board occupied by significant shareholders of the new dispatch center, as well as an implementation group that would create policies and procedures.

Alderman Tony Williams expressed some concern about cost-sharing, but ultimately the board decided to bring a resolution to the full City Council at the next meeting. The E-911 board will meet with officials from Passavant Area Hospital next Wednesday, and McCarty said there’s support from the county board.