CROWN POINT | Crown Point officials rejected an interlocal agreement for a countywide consolidation of E-911 services and authorized its city attorney to challenge the merger's constitutionality.
Mayor David Uran said the consolidation unfairly calls on cities and towns to spend more on police and fire emergency communications with little return in quality of service.
"We've already got the best equipment and the best personnel," Uran said of the city's own emergency dispatch center. "For us to diminish service and pay more is absolutely asinine."
The General Assembly mandated communities consolidate into no fewer than two public safety call centers by Dec. 31, 2014.
Lake County officials have proposed a $30 million model for replacing 18 community dispatch units with two major call centers and new communications gear.
Cities and towns signing the interlocal agreement would have to commit millions of tax dollars from their future budgets to a unified communications system.
Failure to meet the consolidation deadline would mean the loss of nearly $4 million in state subsidies now keeping emergency communications up and running.
The Crown Point Board of Public Works and Safety voted Wednesday against signing the agreement and backed Uran in authorizing City Attorney David Nicholls to challenge the legality of requiring consolidation without state funding.
Municipalities in Lake County are up against a frozen levy and tax caps imposed by the state, Uran said.
"We want to have a ruling to find out the constitutionality of state unfunded mandates," he said.
Crown Point is believed to be the first of the 18 communities to reject the interlocal agreement in its current form, but it may not be the last.
"A number of police and fire chiefs have expressed concerns about selling the interlocal agreement to their elected officials," said Hammond Police Chief Brain Miller, chairman of the E-911 advisory commission.
"It probably won't be signed by anyone in its current form. It will probably have to be amended."