Montgomery County 911 board reconsiders dispatch consolidation

HILLSBORO (Heartland Newsfeed) — The 911 Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) of Montgomery County reconsidered a decision they made last month to move their operations center from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department to Taylorville following their board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 17.

A motion to consolidate 911 dispatch operations with the joint board of Christian and Shelby counties failed to pass with a 3-3 vote during a special meeting on September 12. Voting in favor in the 4-2 decision were board chairman Tom Rogers, Joe Gasparich, Darin Beckman and Mandy Sebeschak. The two dissenters were Dave Beal and Bill Bergen, with Dave Weir absent.

Following the September meeting, the 911 board and Montgomery County Board still had to work out a $40,000 difference of opinion as to what is considered fair reimbursement for housing the dispatch center inside the sheriff’s department. That number grew to roughly $300,000 after the county board’s finance committee stated they could no longer afford its portion of equipment upgrades, mostly in regards to the closure of the coal power plant in Coffeen.

A press release from 911 director Greg Nimmo cited the budget shortfall is being created by the closure of the Coffeen plant, which “puts the county in a position that they are unable to jointly [with the 911 Board] fund a portion of desperately-needed communications center upgrades.”

The Montgomery County 911 system does not currently have the $1.2 million required to complete the system upgrades by themselves, which includes next-gen technologies mandated by July 2020, including an Internet protocol-based radio system, radio console systems, electronic records management, mobile operations, mapping and required electrical construction.

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Nimmo anticipates that the process of consolidation with the 911 operations center in Taylorville, which services Christian and Shelby counties, to take up to a year. After working out an agreement with Christian/Shelby 911, a modification plan will need to be filed and approved by the Illinois State Police. Upon completion, the Montgomery County Board can dissolve the 911 board and establish the tri-county 911 board in coordination with the other counties. Grants for consolidation purposes will become available in December.

“The 911 board also motioned to complete agreeable equipment upgrades needed to the systems to ensure their operations during the consolidation process,” Nimmo said.  “These upgrades, in turn, will also support the sheriff’s office equipment needs upon 911’s departure to a consolidated system. That motion unanimously passed.”

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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and a contributing writer for My Sports Vote, Ambush Sports and Midwest Sports Network. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dogs Sparky and Buster.

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