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Retention bonuses approved for dispatchers : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Retention bonuses approved for dispatchers
Montgomery seeking to keep staff on job until center is shutdown

by John Etheredge


Six Montgomery Police Department dispatchers and four support staff members will receive retention bonuses if they remain on the job until the village shuts down its dispatching center at the village police station later this year.

Village board members voted unanimously to approve the bonus program after emerging from an approximate 75-minute closed-door executive session held during a special meeting March 5.

Board members unanimously agreed Feb. 25 to shut down the dispatching center and to join KenCom, the 911 dispatching service based in Yorkville.

KenCom handles emergency dispatching for most police and fire protection districts in Kendall County.

By joining KenCom and shutting down the police department's dispatch center, Police Chief Daniel Meyers has said the village will save $330,000 in the first year after the switch to KenCom and as much as $500,000 on an annual basis in subsequent years.

The village has operated its own dispatching service out of its police station for more than 40 years.

Currently, dispatchers at the village police station on U.S. Route 30 at Griffin Drive answer 911 calls for the police department, Sugar Grove Police, Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, Aurora Township and Montgomery-Countryside Fire Districts as well as Waubonsee Community College.

Each of the participating agencies pays a fee to the village for the dispatching service.

Prompting the board's decision to shutdown the village's dispatch center was an announcement by Sugar Grove police and fire officials late last year that they plan to drop out of the village's dispatching center and join a regional dispatching facility.

Meyers estimated the loss of the two Sugar Grove agencies would cost the village approximately $200,000 annually in dispatching service payments.

Jeff Zoephel, the village's finance director and acting village administrator, said the earliest the village could shutdown its dispatching center and transfer to KenCom would be in September.

In an effort to keep the village's six dispatchers on the job until the transfer to KenCom is made, Zoephel said the board approved the bonus program last week.

Zoephel said four support staff members were included in the program because their positions will be affected by restructuring resulting from the shutdown of the dispatching center.

"Our goal is to make sure we have staff on board to continue to dispatch until we make the switch (to KenCom)," he said.

Under the agreement, Zoephel said those employees who continue working with the village until the village completes the dispatching switch to KenCom will receive a bonus payment of $10,000-if there are no new positions for them with the village.

Employees who stay with the village until the switch to KenCom and then are assigned to new positions with the village will receive a bonus payment of $5,000.

Asked if any of the affected employees have indicated they may soon leave the village, Zoephel said, "No. Some say they want to stay until the end, but we don't know. They obviously have to look out for themselves, which I understand."

Zoephel acknowledged the dispatchers may pursue positions with other dispatching agencies in the area.

He noted that one of the dispatchers has been with the village for 16 years, another for 13 years and another for 10 years.

"It's certainly not easy any time you are doing something that affect someone's job and you have long-term employees," Zoephel said.

The dispatchers are not unionized.

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