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Lake Forest will rule on centralized dispatch in 2014

The earliest Lake Forest City Council will make decisipotentially outsourcing 911 emergency dispatch will be first quarter 2014. | File

The earliest the Lake Forest City Council will make a decision on potentially outsourcing 911 emergency dispatch will be first quarter of 2014. | File photo

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Updated: February 15, 2014 4:20AM

The earliest the Lake Forest City Council will make a decision on potentially outsourcing 911 emergency dispatch will be first quarter of 2014.

New data received places the city’s savings at $1.9 million over five years by eliminating its own dispatch operation at the city’s Public Service building on Deerpath, a little lower than the $2.5 million estimate from October — but a number that all municipalities agree will better reflect potential savings.

A consultant for the Shared Fire Service Task Force that is looking at combining dispatching services relayed the new data at the group’s last meeting on Dec. 2. The task force were expected to receive a final report on the advantages and cost implications of centralized dispatching operation on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at the Highland Park Country Club.

The communities of Lake Bluff, Lake Forest and Highland Park have spent the past year examining the possibility of sharing dispatch services to lower costs. The preferred plan going into the meeting was consolidating dispatch through Glenview with a back-up system in Highland Park. Glenview already provides complete 911 response for several communities.

“There are a number of operational considerations both pro and con,” Lake Forest City Manager Bob Kiely said.

What the switch will mean to residents’ service levels is the biggest unknown.

“Clearly, there’s a trade-off,” he said. “It’s nice to save $1.9 million, but what will be the impacts on service levels residents can expect and how do we, to the extent that we can, minimize those impacts so it’s as seamless as possible and has as little impact as possible?”

Fourth Ward Ald. Robert Palmer acknowledged that the task force has “really beat up this issue,” he said. “It’s looked at it in every possible way.’

Kiely said his office has received between one dozen and two dozen inquiries on the issue, with most residents concerned about what the switch will mean to them when they call 911.

“That’s a very legitimate issue and one that we’re going to have to address,” Kiely said.

Fourth Ward Ald. Mike Adelman said the nearly $60 savings per household might not be enough to tip the scale.

“I haven’t had any resident say to me, ‘Oh, yea. Go for the shared services,’” he said. “But I have had a couple of people say, ‘Don’t do it. We’ll regret it.’”

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