The Riverside village board voted unanimously to agree to a new two-year contract with its police dispatchers, providing a 4-percent raise in salary beginning April 1 and another 4-percent hike in January 2007.

The contract, which has been in negotiation since November 2005, is similar to the previous deal between the village and its four dispatchers. A provision in the new contract pays the lead dispatcher a $3,000-per-year stipend, a $500 increase from the old contract. The lead dispatcher is responsible for training staff.

Dispatchers will see their family health insurance premiums go up slightly, due to a 9-percent increase in the total cost of health care premiums in 2006. An employee will have to pay $35 per month if he or she insures only himself or herself. However, insurance premiums for employee and family will go up from $85 per month currently to $95 per month on July 1 and to $106 per month on July 1, 2007. Dental insurance will be 5 percent per month of the village’s premium cost.

Under terms of the new contract, negotiated on behalf of the dispatchers by the Fraternal Order of Police Unit #39, the starting salary for a dispatcher on April 1 will be $31,509.73.

Dispatchers with eight years of experience will earn $48,593.66 as of April 1. On Jan. 1, 2007, the range for dispatchers will be between $32,770.12 and $50,537.40.

Joint dispatch study underway

Meanwhile, the village has moved ahead with its study into the feasibility of creating a joint emergency dispatch operation with the Village of Lyons.

According to Village Manager Kathleen Rush, the village has entered into a contract with CTA Communications, a Lynchburg, Va.-based firm that previously worked with the West Central Municipal Conference on a emergency dispatch consolidation study in 2000.

Representatives from the firm will be in Riverside this month to collect data, and Rush said she expects to have a completed study in front of the Board of Trustees within two months. The cost to complete the study is $13,000, with the Village of Lyons picking up $4,500 of that cost, Rush said.

Riverside and Lyons announced they were considering a consolidated emergency dispatch center in December 2005 in order to streamline police and fire dispatching in the two villages and as a long-term cost saving measure.

Lyons will be starting construction on a new police station on a 6-acre parcel of land on Lawndale Avenue this year. The dispatch center, a joint lockup and shared records storage would be included in that project.

Riverside would be responsible for paying a portion of the cost for the construction of the dispatch center, although the total cost to Riverside has not yet been determined. If the village decides to go ahead with the plan, Riverside’s contribution to the joint dispatch center will include a good deal of new communications equipment the Riverside police and fire departments are purchasing this year.

In January, the Riverside village board approved spending nearly $700,000 to install a wireless mobile network communications system, new dispatch equipment and new records management software.