During a special meeting of the Grundy County Emergency Telephone System Board's (911 board) Executive Committee Wednesday, the board approved a dispatching fee of $75,000 to take on Seneca police, fire and EMS calls.
The committee approved the fee unanimously along with an additional one-time impact fee of $15,000.
Now Seneca has to approve its fee before it officially joins Grundy's dispatch services in the new dispatch center. Terry Marketti, Grundy County Sheriff, said Seneca's ETSB, village, fire and ambulance boards all have to approve it.
"They all agreed to approach us and discuss working with us," said Marketti Thursday.
The fee was determined by the board's finance committee based on call volume and legal fees, said executive committee chairman Justin Meyer, who is Minooka's Chief of Police, during the meeting.
In 2010, Seneca police had 2,725 calls. In 2011, it had 3,863. There were 500 EMS and 200 fire calls in 2011.
Seneca will be responsible for getting its infrastructure to physically be serviced by the Grundy dispatch center. This will take some time for Seneca to complete, said Morris Police Chief Brent Dite.
Meyer said it would probably be next year before Seneca was on board.
Tracey Steffes, Morris assistant fire chief and soon-to-be chief, expressed concern on whether adding on Seneca's calls, plus the possibility of Braidwood's calls in the future, would be too much for the current dispatch staff to handle.
There are four dispatchers on a floor at a time, but depending on vacations, sick time and breaks, there can be three on the floor, said Steffes.
"For three hours a day, there are two dispatchers here," he said.
"With three people in the dispatch center, if we had four at all times I'd say yea, but are we being wise here?" asked Steffes.
Sheriff Terry Marketti said it is a "wait and see" situation. Until the dispatchers actually handle the extra calls, they don't know if an increase in staff is needed.
"The problem is everyone is worried about money," said Marketti. He said with the unknowns such as someone calling in sick and trying to watch overtime costs, predicting the staff needs is difficult.
Steffes said he thinks this is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
The dispatchers can be forced to take their breaks on site, it's in their contracts, said Marketti. That way if they are on break and calls get busy, the dispatcher can be called back on. "That's why we pay them for breaks," Marketti said.
Bob Coleman, soon-to-be retired Morris Fire Chief, asked if the fees the board is mandating will cover the possibility of future staff needs.
"We can't determine that til we get them here," said Marketti.
If more money is needed for staff, it could be available in the board's contingency monies, he said.
When Seneca joins the center, another person will be added to the 911 executive committee to represent Seneca.