Post-Tribune - - Front Page - BY CAR­RIE NAPOLEON

Post-Tri­bune cor­re­spon­dent

CROWN POINT — Mem­bers of Lake County’s E-911 com­mis­sion had their first look Thurs­day at the 2015 pro­posed com­plete first-year op­er­at­ing bud­get for the con­sol­i­dated E-911 dis­patch cen­ter.

The $10.25 mil­lion pro­posed bud­get in­cludes about $6.96 mil­lion for per­son­nel and must be ap­proved by the Lake County Public Safety Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion and then for­warded on to the county com­mis­sion­ers and then the county coun­cil for ap­proval.

“This is a pretty ex­cit­ing day for me,” Larry Blan­chard, com­mis­sion­ers’ con­sul­tant, said.

Blan­chard worked with of­fi­cials and E-911 Direc­tor Brian Hitch­cock to fig­ure out the bud- get. He said it has been a long jour­ney since the process first be­gan to the first year op­er­at­ing bud­get.

Con­sol­i­da­tion of the county’s E-911 dis­patch cen­ters into no more than two cen­ters was man­dated by the state leg­is­la­ture about five years ago. Dead­line for con­sol­i­da­tion is Dec. 31.

Of­fi­cials have been work­ing to­ward the con­sol­i­da­tion since that point gain­ing sig­nif­i­cant mo­men­tum in the past 12 to 18 months.

The bud­get is about $1 mil­lion more than the agency’s to­tal fund­ing in­clud­ing the levy trans­fer of the cur­rent par­tic­i­pants, state 911 funds and county funds, ac­cord­ing to Steve Dal­ton with Cen­der and Com­pany. St. John, Scher­erville and Cedar Lake are con­tin­u­ing on a path to con­sol­i­date their three op- er­a­tions and not par­tic­i­pate in the county-wide con­sol­i­da­tion.

Dal­ton said having the three com­mu­ni­ties par­tic­i­pate in the county-wide con­sol­i­da­tion would add an­other ap­prox­i­mately $800,000 in levy trans­fers.

“That is a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of their deficit,” he said.

Hitch­cock af­ter the meet­ing said the 2015 bud­get cur­rently in­cludes staffing for the op­er­a­tion if all 18 units were to par­tic­i­pate. If the three com­mu­ni­ties ul­ti­mately do not join staffing num­bers would be re­duced by about 10 per­cent, just shy of $700,000.

Any amount in the bud­get not cov­ered by the levy trans­fer or the state 911 funds will be the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of the county, ac­cord­ing to the in­ter­local agree­ment cre­at­ing the E-911 con­sol­i­da­tion.

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