LOWELL | The Town Council agreed Monday to enter into a memo of understanding with St. John regarding its proposal for two E-911 operating call centers in the county.
Councilman Don Parker, D-3rd, abstained saying he did not know enough to make a decision.
Lowell is the second community to sign on. Schererville came on board last week.
Lowell Town Council Vice President Craig Earley, D-1st, said some questions needed answers before a decision could be made.
Those answers were provided by Mike Forbes, the St. John council's president, Town Manager Steve Kil and technical assistant/dispatcher Cliff Wroe, who appeared before the council Monday.
After Lowell's vote, Forbes said he's confident it won't be long before 10 of the 18 Lake County communities sign on and force the proposal's serious consideration by the county.
St. John's plan would have St. John, Schererville, Cedar Lake, Crown Point, Dyer, Griffith, Highland, Lowell, Munster and county police covering rural south county form a separate public safety answering point, or PSAP. Its annual operating budget would be $2.2 million, Kil said.
Forbes said they will meet with Dyer officials today and are setting up a meeting with Highland officials. Talks with Cedar Lake officials have been positive, he said.
When Earley said he'd been told St. John's proposal was illegal, Forbes said, "This proposal is totally within existing law."
Councilman Phillip Kuiper, D-4th, said, "I think it's up to them (Lake County officials) to challenge your numbers now."
Forbes said, "Our proposal's been around, but no one started looking at this until they saw the county's numbers in the paper."
Lowell Council President Edgar Corns, R-5th, took issue with county numbers that would have Lowell's share of the call center's cost at $190,000 when Merrillville, a town four times larger by population, would pay $360,000.
Each community's share on the south county PSAP would be based on call volume, officials said.