Lee County 911 Dispatch Center fears for future if funding bill isn’t passed

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DIXON, Illinois - Time is of the essence at the Lee County 911 Dispatch Center for IL Governor Bruce Rauner to sign a bill extending funding before it expires on June 30th.

"In dire straits, what could happen is the call may not be completed, the call may not go through the routers, the phone companies could not supply the services anymore," said Shelley Dallas, Lee County 911 director.

The dispatch center is funded by an 87 cent fee on phone bills and the new legislation ups the charge to $1.50 for downstate communities and extends the fee to Dec. 31, 2020,  but that increase wouldn’t happen until January 1st.

"That increase will assist in much needed technology upgrades and things of that nature, in order for us to implement and fully integrate equipment that is going to be obsolete in the next couple of years," said Dallas.

The funding will help pay for the Next Generation 911 system that allows text to 911, the center is required to upgrade to the system by 2020.

"Our equipment may not be able to reach the next generation standards that the state has mandated us to comply with, we may have to cut staff," said Dallas.

The center has around $1 million in reserves to operate as-is for at least the next six months.

"Right now the revenue that we receive basically meet the expenditures that we outlay each month, give or take a couple thousand dollars," said Dallas.

If the bill is vetoed legislators could try again in November but that would cause a 6 month void in funding.