Winnebago County communities agree to handle 911 services through sheriff's office

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) -- Nine communities in Winnebago County have agreed to a plan that carries out 911 services through the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.

The agreement includes the city of Loves Park and South Beloit, in addition to the villages of Cherry Valley, Durand, Machesney Park, Pecatonica Rockton, Roscoe and Winnebago.

"It is noteworthy any time you have 9 communities, the county, and the sheriff's department come together to bring a solution for something as important as 911 dispatch," said Machesney Park Village Administrator Tim Savage.

Currently, only Machesney Park and Loves Park pay for 911 services. With this new agreement, each municipality will be paying a fair share determined by call volume, along with a base fee of $10,000 to $11,000.

"I think most of those communities recognize that they were needing to pay in something for the dispatch service, and from what I'm hearing, they think this is a reasonable number," said Savage.

Community leaders used multiple studies as a guide for how to move forward in the most efficient and cost effective way.

"We were paying roughly about the same as Machesney, and now we're gonna be paying slightly, a little bit more, roughly around $180,000 maybe a little bit more...that's what we think we're gonna be at," said Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury.

Taking a closer look at operations was part of an 18-month process that started when the sheriff's office budget took a massive cut.

"We're trying to save dollars whatever way we can, and still provide service," said Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana.

Along with cost benefits, Caruana says this is also helping the county as a whole.

"It built good relationships between all the mayors, my office, and uh... it's good stuff," said Caruana.

The agreement is expected to go before each city council or village board by the end of the month. City and village leaders must approve the deal before it can move forward.