ROCKFORD (WREX) — After over two years of negotiations for a new deal for 911 services, Winnebago County and nine cities and villages have finally agreed on a contract.
For years, most of the municipalities in the agreement paid nothing for 911 services. The county wanted everyone to pay its fair share, so this deal sought to change that.
But though the members agreed to pay something, figuring out a formula and logistics sparked numerous disagreements dragging the process out for years.
Just before a Winnebago County Board meeting on Thursday night, a county committee approved the new agreement and board members voted on that, approving a new 911 deal.
Chairman Haney says he's happy to finally close the book on it, but he wants to emphasize that thought there's a new deal, emergency services for residents across the county will remain the same.
"The sheriff remains in control of 911 and so from a service standpoint, the good service you got yesterday is the same good service you'll get tomorrow," Haney explains.
The county will receive $500,000 per quarter to pay for 911 services. The amount gets divided up amongst the nine municipalities based on need and usage. It won't increase for the duration of the agreement, which is four years.
The start date is listed in the contract as Oct. 1, 2019. So, municipalities will have to pay for the final quarter of last year before payments begin for this year.
In return for payments, in addition to 911 services, each of the municipalities gets a seat at the table when it comes to decision-making. Both the Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office and Winnebago Village President and attorney Frank Eubank agree the deal is fair.
"I think overall we're all happy with this agreement and I think we all understand, in talking with the county, that we'll be back at the table in three years talking about this - it's a four year agreement," Eubank says.
David Kurlinkus agrees.
"I'm relieved [and] I think everything worked out and, you know, it was a lot of give and take with our municipal partners," Kurlinkus explains. "I think ultimately we came up with a very good agreement."
The agreement still has to pass within each of the nine municipalities before it can be finalized. Most of the communities already budgeted for a 911 deal because negotiations have been ongoing and it was seen as a matter of time until a deal was approved. Therefore, it shouldn't impact residents' taxes.