News : Proposed Communications Fee for Small-town Volunteer Fire Departments
Sycamore, IL, USA, Sept 29, 2015 -- A new proposed communications fee would charge small-town and volunteer fire departments for utilizing the countywide communications center.
The Sheriff's Communications Fee Assessment Proposal, presented to the DeKalb County Law and Justice Committee for the second time Monday by Waterman Police Chief Chuck Breese, suggests charging Cortland, Hinckley, Kirkland, Lee, Leland, Malta, Paw Paw, Shabbona, Somonauk and Waterman fire departments a fee based on how many CAD (computer-aided dispatch) events are called in to the communications center.
Currently, only police departments in non-contract rural areas pay a fee for utilizing the communication center.
"The expense of running it is getting to be a burden on everybody," Breese said. "We want the burden to be shared by all the users of the communications center, not just the police. It should be the fire."
To meet $188,000, a number that would reflect an agreement previously made between the sheriff's office and the rural areas from July 2016 to June 2017, Breese used the number of CAD events called to the communications center in 2014, which he said were indicative of traditional call-in numbers.
The Somonauk Fire Department had 497 calls, 3.8 percent of the 13,132 calls made last year, and would owe $188,000 if the agreement passed the County Board at a later date.
The agreement increases to $195,000 from 2017 to 2018, and then $201,000 through April 2019, and would be contingent upon future amounts of calls made to the communications center.
"The solution, to try to be fair, is pay their amount of usage, based on the calls they receive," Breese said.
He said it was his idea to rally the small towns together to discuss options, since he first noticed Waterman would have a difficult time paying upcoming increases.
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A committee was formed as a result. Law and Justice Committee and County Board member Dan Cribben has been in attendance at some of them and said "it was difficult to get a consensus" between police and fire departments.
"Yet, I think there were strides taken there to at least notice all those fire departments," he said. "I think the issue is well-stated and there’s a perception by those fire departments that they share in those communication centers, and they need to be a part of what happens there, including the cost."
One issue that could hinder the assessment fee, if passed, is rural agencies not calling in their CAD events, according to Sheriff Roger Scott.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, October 1, 2015
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