The villages of Brookfield, North Riverside and Riverside got a bit of good news recently when the state of Illinois informed West Central Consolidated Communications (WC3), the agency created to provide centralized police and fire dispatching services, that it would be receiving a nearly $1 million grant to help offset the costs of setting it up.
Back in 2015, the Illinois General Assembly passed a plan to consolidate emergency dispatch services throughout the state. Any town with less than 25,000 people was required to form a partnership or partnerships to centralize E911 services.
The move, it’s believed, will save money in the long run and provide a higher level of service, especially in rural Illinois, where resources for expensive services are more difficult to obtain.
For suburban Chicago, the mandate was more of a pain in the neck. Although there may be some savings seen down the road, the initial implementation was turning out to be very, very expensive.
WC3’s three member communities — McCook would come on later as a non-voting member — were dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars that they really didn’t have into the creation of the central dispatch agency and, in particular, the technological infrastructure needed to make it all work.
It got to the point last summer where members were beginning to bicker amongst themselves about the cost.
But the state grant will go a long way to reimbursing the villages for that initial infrastructure investment, and WC3’s decision early on to bite the bullet and take on that initial expense has turned out to be a good one.
Not only is the state reimbursing the agency for the startup costs (which were passed through to member communities) the state has also provided enough money for WC3 to establish a working cash reserve. As a result, WC3 won’t need to seek more money from its members to do so.
We’re still all looking forward, of course, to those lower costs, now that dispatching services have been consolidated. But we’re guessing we’ll be waiting some time for that.