Lowell E-911 merger may be near

2013-03-07T14:34:00Z 2013-03-07T20:59:34Z Lowell E-911 merger may be nearBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
March 07, 2013 2:34 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Lake County Council members may give the Town of Lowell a go-ahead Tuesday to merge its police department's emergency radio communications with the sheriff's.

Council members said Thursday at a workshop meeting they will likely vote to approve an interlocal agreement between the county and Lowell setting out how the merger takes place.

The council balked last month at accepting the agreement, which would have had the county hire two Lowell radio dispatchers and the Town of Lowell pay the county $100,000 to cover their salaries.

Council members said they would prefer not accepting the money and let the Town of Lowell continue as the employer of the two dispatchers.

Council members said they are reluctant to add full-time employees to the county's payroll.

The council will defer acting this month on a larger proposed agreement to commit county government to finance a consolidated E-911 network encompassing the work now done by 17 community-based radio dispatch centers.

Council members said they want to amend the proposed agreement to ensure cities and towns understand they must contribute to the county a fair share of their budgets they now commit to their own E-911 operations.

The state is mandating the countywide consolidation take place by Dec. 31, 2014. Sheriff John Buncich chided the county last month for refusing to approve an overall interlocal agreement, saying delays could cause the county to lose $2.6 million per year in state E-911 subsidies if it fails to make that deadline.

The council also will consider at its Tuesday meeting whether to appropriate more than $2 million the sheriff said is needed to fund about half the cost of providing enhanced medical and psychiatric services to county jail inmates as the U.S. Department of Justice demands.

The council will delay acting on an additional request by the sheriff to provide the other half of the jail money until a committee of county officials decides how to distribute $15 million the county borrowed late last year to fund jail expenses as well as repairs to county highways, bridges and drainage ditches.

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