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New 911 agreement on the horizon

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX) — For two years, Winnebago County and nine municipalities have been in negotiations for a new 911 plan.

"It's obviously been a long journey," Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury said. "This journey started back in December of '17."

Across the county, there's only one 911 center to serve the county and the nine municipalities. But for years, only the county, Machesney Park and Loves Park paid for the 911 services, and that's something local leaders wanted to change.

"The county thought that more of the smaller communities should pay for the services, and we didn't disagree with that," Rockton Mayor Dale Adams said. "We have no problem paying our fair share."

13 WREX obtained a draft of the agreement through a Freedom of Information Act request after the state's attorney tried to keep it private.

According to the draft we obtained, Rockton's fair share is $46,651. Amounts for other municipalities are listed below:

"Rockton is comfortable with the agreement," Mayor Adams said.

In phone calls with Pecatonica Village President Bill Smull and South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl, both said they were happy with the agreement. Mayor Jury also said Loves Park supports the agreement, but he says there are still a few details to work out.

"Governance, the term of the contract, you know, if there's a termination, how long that is," Mayor Jury explained.

There's also a disagreement. In the draft, the county says it's only financially responsible for taking 911 calls, not dispatching them. However, Mayor Rehl says since the meeting where the draft we obtained was discussed, there's an even newer one.

"I did not see it (the sentence in question) is the latest agreement," Mayor Rehl said.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney also released a statement on the agreement:

"This agreement is landing in a good spot for all involved, especially, citizens. It creates fair and equitable payment for municipal partners. It establishes an advisory council for partner input while still allowing the sheriff's department to maintain operation control of 911 services for Winnebago County residents outside of Rockford."

But while the sheriff controls it, being a part of the decision-making process is what matters most to small communities like Mayor Rehl's.

"I want to emphasize that, seat at the table," Mayor Rehl said.

On Friday, Dec. 13, the nine municipalities will meet to go over the latest draft, which Mayor Jury says he hopes is the final version. He expects the deal to be finalized sometime in January 2020.

Richard Bodee

Richard Bodee is a reporter at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team in June 2019 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

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