Riverside officials should know by the end of June whether or not the village will move ahead with plans to form a joint emergency dispatch center with the Village of Lyons. Village Manager Kathleen Rush said earlier this month that an intergovermental agreement with Lyons could be hammered out by that time, but said that the village board has been “very, very deliberate with this very important step.”
“If we proceed, we want to do it with all due diligence,” Rush said. “[The intergovernmental agreement] is an importance piece [of the process].”
In the meantime, Lyons officials said they must have a decision from Riverside by June 30 since they are in the final stages of designing a new $11 million municipal complex/police station slated to occupy the former quarry property on Lawndale Avenue just south of Ogden Avenue.
“We’re looking for an answer by the end of the month,” said Lyons Village Manager Kevin Close. “The footprint of the building has been tweaked and tweaked. If we don’t have an agreement, we’ll have to change the footprint again.”
Both villages announced they were investigating the idea of a joint dispatch/lockup back in December 2005, saying such a facility would streamline police and fire dispatching and result in long-term savings for each village, especially if other municipalities joined later.
Riverside hired a consultant to perform a feasibility study for the joint venture, a preliminary draft of which was presented to the Riverside village board and officials from both Lyons and Riverside on June 1. The report concluded that each village would need to contribute approximately $762,000 in start-up costs to the dispatch center and that Riverside would also have to pay nearly $400,000 annually as its portion for operating the facility.
Riverside has already pledged a good deal of its share for start-up costs, having ordered completely new emergency communications hardware and software, a records management system and dispatch center furniture. That equipment will be installed in Riverside’s current dispatch center and will be moved to the new center if the two villages agree to the joint facility.
That purchase, pegged at nearly $700,000, was approved by the Riverside village board in January. Rush said the village’s current emergency dispatch equipment and records management software needed immediate replacement and that, in any case, a new joint dispatch facility would not be completed for some two years.
“Our system’s unreliability is of concern enough that we wanted to straighten it out sooner rather than later,” Rush said.
The ongoing expenses for the facility’s operation include a split on personnel costs, although Riverside will pay a bit more since three part-time records clerks would be housed in Riverside, according to the plan. Riverside would also have to pay half the cost for maintenance and its portion of expenses for housing prisoners.
Riverside will not have to pay any portion of the building’s actual construction, according to Rush. Rather, Lyons will likely opt to charge the joint dispatch agency rent for use of the facility. The dispatch center will serve as an autonomous agency with its own board of directors and staff. Workers will be employees of the joint dispatch agency, not the villages.
The one cloud on the horizon for Lyons at this point is the size of its wallet to pay for the construction of the new complex. While the entire project is pegged at $11 million, Lyons has issued bonds totaling just $7 million. Close said the village will make up the difference by selling assets, principally land, to make up the difference.
Among the parcels to be sold off are the current sites of the Lyons Village Hall and the Recreation Hall and six or seven acres of land along Lawndale Avenue adjacent to the new municipal site. Close said appraisals for those pieces of property, $5-6 million, show that the village should have more than enough cash to pay for the new facility.