ISLAND LAKE – Village officials voted to lay off six full-time police dispatchers and contract for emergency communications with the village of Lake Zurich.
The vote was 6-1 at Thursday’s special board meeting. Officials said the consolidation would save the village at least $144,000 in salaries and insurance the first year. Trustee Laura Rabattini cast the lone “no” vote.
“The economics of such a decision are quite clear and rather stark,” the board said in a statement Thursday after the vote. “Given the contracting opportunities available to the village, Island Lake can contract for round-the-clock dispatching service from another agency for about one-third the cost of maintaining its own dispatching operation.”
Island Lake’s dispatch service costs $333,815 a year, village administrators said.
The board considered two options: merge its dispatch operations with Lake County or Lake Zurich.
Consolidating with Lake County’s system was estimated at $207,000 the first year.
Lake Zurich’s proposed five-year contract, estimated at $186,719 the first year, offered the most in cost savings. Village leaders also pointed to Lake Zurich’s “state-of-the-art” operation.
“Our current dispatch center can’t begin to match these technological advances,” the village statement said.
Once the village of Lake Zurich approves an intergovernmental agreement, the transition is expected to take up to two months to complete. In that time, the dispatchers’ union, the Illinois FOP Labor Council and the village will negotiate severance pay and cessation of existing operations.
The Lake Zurich Village Board is expected to vote on the agreement next month, Village Administrator Jason Slowinski said.
Wayne Schnell, a critic of Village President Debbie Herrmann and the current administration, questioned the timing of “such a major decision like this 80 days before election time.”
Several hotly contested campaigns are under way in Island Lake, which has a population of about 8,000 residents.
Schnell serves as campaign manager for the candidates running on the “For The People” slate, which includes mayoral hopeful Charles Amrich and trustee candidate Anthony Sciarrone. Two residents with business ties to the village filed objections to Amrich and Sciarrone’s nominating petitions.
The village’s electoral board, which comprises incumbents Herrmann and Clerk Connie Mascillino, is scheduled to meet Thursday for the second hearing on the objections.
Schnell opined that village officials made their decisions without allowing the public enough opportunity to weigh in.
“It was pretty sad the way they presented it to the public,” he said. “This is a small community and things like this affect us in a big way. We had no time to digest and actually research the facts as they call it in there.”
Herrmann said the board’s decision comes after months of collective-bargaining negotiations.
“This has been going on for six months,” she said. “It’s not about the people in the audience. It’s between employees represented by their union and the Village Board.”