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Minooka trustees upset with Grundy County over 9-1-1 cost increase

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 10:51 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 8:39 p.m. CDT

MINOOKA – Minooka village trustees have agreed to pay $199,983 annually for 9-1-1 communication services to Grundy County – despite nearly unanimous disapproval of a huge jump in the village’s annual contribution.

In a 4-2 vote Tuesday, trustees approved a three-year contract with the county for the service. Trustees Dick Parrish and Barry Thompson voted against the contract while Ray Mason, Dennis Martin, Rudy Martin and Terry Houchens voted in favor.

“While I think this agreement is not good, I am going to vote for it because it’s the best we have,” Houchens said prior to the vote.

When the consolidated emergency system – which serves four villages, the county and nine fire districts – was put into place three years ago, the county paid for the program strictly through county taxes.

Last year, the county divided up the operating costs among participants and Minooka’s portion was $100,000. Now that the cost has nearly doubled, the village board has major concerns about the program, including the way the county is allocating costs.

Village taxpayers are paying twice for emergency services – through county property taxes and again through village property taxes, Dennis Martin said.

The only exception are residents and industry in unincorporated areas, who only contribute to the system through the county, since they don’t pay village taxes, Thompson said.

Most industrial companies are not in village limits, Dennis Martin said.

“I think the whole taxing mechanism is outrageous,” Houchens said.

While the village’s portion increased almost two-fold, the county’s portion was reduced by $91,000. The county pays 58.89 percent of the system’s operating budget.

The costs are allocated by calls made to the 9-1-1 system, Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer said. But that includes service and event calls; not all calls made to dispatchers are bad.

“If you have an active [police] department, you have a lot of calls,” Meyer said.

The agreement was approved in order to continue receiving services, but the board will explore what other options are available for the future.

Thompson said he warned the board a few years ago to be careful with this particular contract.

“We have no idea what our [future] burden is going to be,” he said.

Houchens said he hopes taxpayers will pay attention to the issue.

“They [the county] pass the buck to municipalities,” he said.

Sewer/water rates to increase

In other board news, residents will see an increase in their water and sewer bills beginning in November.

Trustees approved a 3 percent increase, in a 6-0 vote, to keep pace with system improvements.

Income generated through the service goes back into maintaining wells, pipes, manholes, valves and other equipment, according to village records.

Tag days set despite objection

Houchens voted against requests by the Knights of Columbus and Will County Humane Society to hold tag days during September and October, but despite the objection, the requests were approved.

Houchens, who votes against all tag days, said he supports the organizations but believes it’s dangerous for people to collect donations at Minooka's busiest intersection.

The Knights of Columbus have scheduled its collection for Sept. 20 and 21, and the humane society is set for Oct. 18. The collection site is on Ridge Road and Mondamin Street.

Refinancing gets go ahead, when price is right

In a unanimous vote, trustees approved the issuance of up to $3.4 million in general obligation refunding bonds to save money on interest.

Additionally, the ordinance gives Administrator Dan Duffy, Finance Director John Harrington and Mayor Pat Brennan the authority to make a decision when circumstances are right to make the bond issuance without waiting for full board approval.

“The net savings has to be $130,000,” Harrington said. “This gives the group the flexibility if it’s a good time to do it.”

Savings on special assessments

Minooka residents in Lakewood Trails units 1 and 2 and the Prairie Ridge subdivisions will begin seeing a savings on their special assessments beginning Jan. 2, 2015.

Trustees approved the refinancing of $20 million in bonds in June, which were taken out in 2003 and 2004 to build the subdivisions' infrastructure.

The village had to wait for approval from the insurance company before refinancing the bonds. Once that came through, the two issues were combined into one with a lower interest rate.

Residents will receive a letter from the village informing them of the annual savings of about $135 per duplex and $250 per single family complex. A partial savings will be on the January 2015 bill, with the full savings beginning in 2016.

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