911 Board Reconsiders Dispatch Consolidation

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The Montgomery County 911 Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) reconsidered a decision made last month, and voted to move their operation center from the Montgomery County Jail in Hillsboro to Taylorville during their meeting on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro.

At a special meeting on Sept. 12, a motion to consolidate 911 dispatch operations with Christian County and Shelby County in Taylorville failed to pass on a 3-3 vote.  This time, the motion passed on a 4-2 vote.  In favor were Chairman Tom Rogers, Joe Gasparich, Darin Beckman and Mandy Sebeschak.  Voting against were Dave Beal and Bill Bergen.  Board member Dave Weir was not present.

After last month's meeting, the 911 board and Montgomery County Board still had to work out a $40,000 difference of opinion of what the ETSB and county board view is a fair reimbursement for housing the dispatch center in the jail.  That number grew to around $300,000 when the county board's Finance Committee said due to the closure of the Coffeen Power Station, it could no longer afford it's portion of equipment upgrades.

According to a press release sent out by 911 Director Greg Nimmo, the county budget shortfall created by the power plant closure "puts the county in a position that they are unable to jointly, with the 911 board, fund a portion of desperately needed 911/sheriff's office communications center upgrades.  The 911 system does not have the $1.2 million needed on its own to complete the system upgrades that would include 911 and next generation technologies mandated in July of 2020, IP-based radio system, console systems, records management, mobile operations, mapping and the needed electrical/construction."

Moving forward, Nimmo anticipates that the process to consolidate 911 operations in Christian County will take up to a year.  After working out details with Christian County a "modification plan" needs to be filed and approved by the Illinois State Police.  The county board would then dissolve the 911 board, and a new Montgomery-Christian-Shelby 911 board would be appointed.  Consolidation grants 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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