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The Village has posted recordings from the regular September Village Board meeting.  The entire meeting lasted about two and three quarter hours, with roughly half of that time spent during the finance portion of the agenda.

Two residents made public comments, and we understand the attendance was relatively sparse after the special board meeting the week prior to hear comments on settling the suit over the Commercial Horse Boarding amendment.

Most of the Finance discussion centered around the potential issuance of bonds at current favorable market rates to fully finance the Police Pension Fund, or “Police Pension Obligation Bond” to be discussed further at this evening’s Finance Committee meeting.

In theory, the interest on those bonds would be less than the rate of returns traditionally seen on the pension fund investments, thus netting a positive overall return for the Village.  Unfortunately, since President McLaughlin first raised this idea nearly a year ago with the board, interest rates have risen nearly one percent, so accordingly, more critical analysis is required before a decision is made.  Those planning to attend should consider listening to the recording for some background, and a queued link to that discussion can be accessed by clicking here.

The Roads & Bridges portion of the meeting included Trustee Cecola’s motion and ultimate Board approval of entering into an “Intergovernmental Agreement” with Cook County for the improvement of Brinker Road, which is not scheduled for resurfacing for the next five years by the county.  This agreement would expedite the repair and resurfacing of Brinker with Federal funds available (without the need for bike lanes) in conjunction with the new Village membership in the Northwest Municipal conference.  A direct link to that discussion and vote can be accessed here.

Repairs to Ridge Road by Cuba Township were also discussed and approved.

An ordinance allowing for the hiring of up to three part-time police officers was passed during the Public Safety portion of the meeting.  This will allow the police chief to bring on additional staff, if needed, including recently retired VBHPD officers in the future.

A summary of the terms of the newest labor agreement with the Village police officers was provided, which was also provided in the latest newsletter.   Chief Semelsberger made a point of expressing his appreciation to resident Ted Clark, who has been representing the Village in the last two labor negotiations for his assistance in the process.

The link to the menu of edited recordings from the full meeting can be accessed here

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The Village has posted a copy of the agenda for Monday evening’s Village Board meeting.  Some of the topics for discussion or vote include:

  • [Vote] Opposition to Construction of the Longmeadow Parkway (Bolz Road) Res. 15-
  • [Vote] Village Algonquin Intergovernmental Agreement Report
  • [Vote] Authorizing Execution of an IGA with Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Res. 15-

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

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The Village has released audio recordings from last Monday’s special Village Board meeting.  We understand the meeting was well attended by residents, but the same cannot be said of elected officials.

Trustees Gohl and Harrington were absent from the brief meeting, as were outgoing Trustees Meroni and Selman.  Once newly elected Trustees Croll, Maison and Cecola took their oaths of office, a quorum of the Board was then present, and the meeting was called to order.

Two residents made public comments.  Trustee Messer was then given a plaque and commendation for his years of service to residents by President McLaughlin, and all present gave him a round of applause.  Plaques were also prepared for former Trustees Meroni and Selman and presumably they will pick up them up at a later date.

The Board then voted on Trustee assignments for oversight of the various committees and commissions made up of appointed residents, as well as approve a new President Pro-Tem.

To access the menu of edited audio recordings from the meeting, click here.

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The Village has released the spring edition of the Village newsletter.  Some of the topics covered include:

  • 2014 year in review
  • Increased spending required to repair Village roads
  • Decreased Village legal expenses
  • 911 consolidation
  • A message from our new Police Chief
  • Park District rebate program

A copy of the newsletter can be downloaded here.

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911 Call CenterThere’s been a lot of outreach lately from Village Hall to residents regarding Public Safety Committee meetings where 911 dispatch consolidation has been discussed.  Three such meetings have occurred since September, in addition to at least two Village Board meetings where the Board of Trustees have also discussed the matter.

Turnout for these meetings has been very low.  Perhaps residents are resting from the fast and frequent pace of Zoning Board public hearings that ended only last month.  Maybe residents understand and approve the move to consolidate.  Or, maybe people didn’t have time to read the 145-page “Public Safety Answering Point” report in the midst of the holidays, and who can blame them?

We’ve read the report, as well as other resources available, and have come up with some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) we’ve heard from residents.  They are:

Why has the Village been exploring 911 consolidation?

This is an initiative that now-retired Police Chief Michael Murphy had been advocating for some time.  Last year, he convinced the Village Board to investigate opportunities for improvements for 911 services through an experienced independent third-party consulting group.

What are the reasons for consolidating 911 services?   

Barrington Hills is one of the very last municipalities left that has not consolidated.  Barrington, South Barrington, East Dundee, Carpentersville, Algonquin and many other communities went with consolidation years and decades ago.  Keeping up with changing technology demands and investments becomes a very costly proposition for a single community like ours, and by joining with other communities, those costs are dramatically lowered and shared by all participants.

We also have only one 911 dispatcher on duty at any given time.  When that one dispatcher is unavailable, 911 calls bounce to another call center.  Given response mandates coming from Springfield, we may have to increase staffing sometime in the future to meet guidelines set forth by the state.

Is this all about lowering costs?

No.  Cost is certainly an incentive, but the safety of residents appears to be the primary concern.

How would residents’ safety be improved through consolidation?

Our current 911 dispatch center only handles Village Police calls.  Any emergency calls for ambulance or fire response are transferred to other call centers for response after information is taken.

This transfer process can take time and sometimes could cause delays, and according to the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District, a fire doubles in size every minute.

Further, our dispatchers are not trained to deal with the immediate needs of a caller when it comes to a heart attack or other life threatening situations.  They must transfer the caller to another 911 center for immediate assistance until help arrives.

If consolidation occurs, will there be no one left manning the village police station dispatch center?

No.  Two shifts will be covered by existing personnel to handle non-emergency and administrative calls, in addition to walk-ins needing assistance.    

What is “QuadCom” and why are they being considered?

QuadCom is a 911 call center that has been actively serving many of the surrounding communities, in some cases, for decades.  They’ve serviced South Barrington since 1991 for police dispatch, East Dundee for police and fire departments, and Carpentersville for police and fire, among other member communities.

Unlike most 911 centers, QuadCom is a membership only service group.  We would have to apply for membership among the other nine members.  Once a member, Barrington Hills would have a seat at the board and have a vote in any future technology and staffing matters.

Also, the Executive Director, Beth Heitkamp, actually began her career in 1984 in our own Barrington Hills 911 center under then Chief Lamb’s tenure, and she seems to have an undiminished passion for the people of Barrington Hills.

Are QuadCom’s dispatchers ‘better’ than our current staff?

From the standpoint of dedication to their jobs, the answer would have to be no from what we’ve heard.  Beth Heitkamp has repeatedly praised our dispatchers in public meetings, and some may ultimately be employed by QuadCom should the consolidation be approved.

The most noteworthy difference in our minds is that QuadCom’s staffs are mostly, if not all CPR-certified, meaning from the first point of contact they can assist the caller in the event of a heart attack from the time between the call and when trained EMT specialists arrive on the scene.  Our current dispatchers are not CPR-certified.

Additionally, QuadCom dispatchers stay on the line with residents until emergency personnel arrive at the scene, instead of passing the call to another 911 center, thus keeping the residents apprised of what is occurring and when.

Some village addresses are hard to find, so how will an outside dispatcher know where to direct responders?

Both Barrington Hills and QuadCom have digital mapping systems at their disposal.  In QuadCom’s case, they have multiple systems available which are tied to land line and cell phone locations.

Fortunately in the case of Barrington Hills, we have very experienced police officers who know where exactly they need to go with a simple address, and the same can be said for the fire districts serving Barrington Hills.  Nonetheless, any new dispatchers will participate in “drive along” education with police officers for visual training.

Do we need to consolidate now to a new call center?   

No, but politicians in Springfield are talking about requiring consolidation at some point.  If this occurs, our options might be limited instead of having a choice as we do now.

Certain “legacy” software and hardware at our current dispatch center will need to be upgraded this year, and that expense will require a significant six-figure investment of taxpayer dollars to achieve.  If a consolidation decision is made after this investment, it is unknown if this can be recouped through resale.

Are there financial benefits to consolidation?

Yes.  As with any consolidation, there are always economies realized by a joining a common group with a shared goal, which in this case is enhanced emergency response to residents.

After the initial membership investment to QuadCom is recouped, the average cost annually for 911 dispatch services to taxpayers will decrease from $168 per capita to under $50.  This equates to a projected $6 million savings over 15 years to taxpayers.

Based on our review of all the information that has been presented on the topic, including the recently released recordings of the Public Safety Committee meeting,  we believe that 911 consolidation will benefit Village residents in a number of ways, and this move does not come without endorsement and praise from neighboring communities.

Still, there are a few detractors, but their arguments seem more partisan based than substantive.  However, most of their concerns seemed to have been allayed at the recent Public Safety Committee meetings.

Our Village Board will take this matter up again during this evening’s regular board meeting.  We hope that politics is put aside and that a constructive dialog can occur which will result in improving public safety in Barrington Hills.

–     The Observer

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The Village has posted ePacket agendas for the three meetings occurring at Village Hall tomorrow.  These packets include documents to be discussed during the respective meetings.

The Heritage and Environs Committee meets at 10:00 AM, and their packet only includes a copy of their agenda as seen here.

The Roads and Bridges Committee packet contains quite a bit of information, including two financial options to address the 4.5 mile backlog in road resurfacing that was disclosed last year.  One plan could eliminate that backlog over the course of 5 years, but would come with an additional estimated cost of approximately $1 million over current plans for the same period in order to accomplish.

Also included in the packet are updates on the Cuba Rd bridge replacement and road reclassification efforts.   It appears the effort to remove some road reclassifications designated over many years has hit a snag with some roads since they continue into other municipalities and removing the classifications in Barrington Hills could jeopardize outside funding for their road improvement plans.

The Roads and Bridges committee meets at 3:00 PM, and the full packet of their information to be discussed can be viewed here.

Finally, the Public Safety Committee meets at 7:00 PM, and their packet includes minutes from their December meeting.  Click here to view their meeting packet.

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BOT RecordingsThe Village has released edited audio recordings from the May 14 Special Village Board meeting. To access the menu of the meeting’s topical audio recording segments, click here.

For reasons unknown, public comments have not been edited to individual resident comments, as they have been in the past. Instead, there is only one recording selection which starts with the first speaker and ends with the last.

Still, we really appreciated the remarks made by a longtime resident, and the manner in which they were made.  A link to the beginning of her remarks can be found here.

The second recording readers should also take the time to listen to is the “New Appointments”segment where wo qualified, experienced and devoted residents were being considered for appointment to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The conduct of some on our board and in the audience that night toward these volunteers willing to step into the politically charged arena that still plagues our Village was absolutely repugnant and inexcusable.  That recording can be found here.

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The Village has posted the ePacket agenda for this evening’s Village Board meeting.  This agenda includes links to some of the documents to be discussed at the meeting and can be accessed by clicking here.

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Our Village Board will be holding a special meeting Wednesday evening beginning at 6:30 PM.  Their agenda can be viewed here or a copy can be downloaded here.

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