Harrisburg plans new dispatch center for city calls - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Harrisburg plans new dispatch center for city calls

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HARRISBURG, Ill. -- Harrisburg city leaders plan to create their own dispatch center.

The deal between Harrisburg and Saline County to run dispatch services expired in May 2013.  

Since then, the city has paid $180,000 per year to the county, the rate it paid under the expired contract.

But last month, the county board sent Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek's office a letter indicating it had to raise costs to more $300,000 a year.

"We can definitely do it for less than $300,000 a year," McPeek said.

McPeek said the city has been negotiating with the county for the last several years but they couldn't agree on a new one.

No one on the board contacted by News 3 wished to speak on camera.

The letter sent to McPeek says the overall yearly budget is $777,000 and calls from Harrisburg account for more than a third of what dispatch receives.

"They say they don't have any money? $180,000 a year is a lot of money to a county, and you're just going to throw that out? You don't want that at all?" McPeek asked. "They could continue accepting the $180,000 until we come to an agreement. But they've decided not to do that. They've decided to go ahead and raise it to $300,000 a year. And that's just totally wrong for the people who live in the city of Harrisburg."

At last week's city council meeting, council members unanimously voted to explore setting up the city's own dispatch service for non-emergency calls.

"That would entail small things that go on in Harrisburg; someone that complained about a neighbor or had a dog running loose or something, that would be considered non-emergency," McPeek said.

Just how the new dispatch center will take shape is something McPeek says the city is investigating, but he believes the move will save Harrisburg taxpayers money.

McPeek said the council plans to vote on a new dispatch center at its next meeting Oct. 18.

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