Lake council in no hurry to grow E-911 management staff

2013-09-10T17:50:00Z 2013-09-10T22:40:28Z Lake council in no hurry to grow E-911 management staffBy Bill Dolan, (219) 662-5328
September 10, 2013 5:50 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | The Lake County Council deferred action Tuesday on a request by Lake County E-911 Executive Director Brian Hitchcock to hire an assistant.

Hitchcock ran into opposition with his request that the council create the position of deputy director to be his second-in-command at a salary of $75,000.

The county hired Hitchcock this summer to oversee consolidation of 17 municipal and county police and fire E-911 systems into a single, countywide network by the end of next year.

Hitchcock told council members at last week's workshop session he needs a deputy to compose job-related policies for the future employees of county E-911 service.

Councilman Dan Dernulc, R-Highland, objected, saying, "I don't think right now we need to be hiring a deputy director. I think we should wait until we have an interlocal agreement signed."

Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, said, "Before we add more positions, we need to see a full budget for the E-911 dispatch service."

Councilman Jerome Prince, D-Gary, said a complete budget for the E-911 service may be weeks away. "I think it would be beneficial to support him now," Prince said.

However, Larry Blanchard, a consultant working on E-911, suggested at least a month's pause until financial and organizational unknowns are resolved.

The council also delayed a promised vote Tuesday on giving Sheriff John Buncich permission to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars from the county police pension fund to support the salaries of several police officers.

The council initially voted 6-1 last month to approve the loan over fears the user fees now supporting the officers' salaries might dip below sustainable levels. Councilman Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, voted against it on grounds borrowing from retirement funds wasn't sound fiscally.

The Board of Commissioners vetoed the loan several days ago. The council scheduled a vote Tuesday to override the veto, but Council President Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said members need to further research the issue because the officers' salaries now appear to be supported by more stable property tax revenues.

The council did appropriate $300,000 in overtime pay for the sheriff's corrections officers, $85,000 overtime for county police and $300,000 more for police car fuel.

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