Urbana Budget Amendment For METCAD Deferred
An Urbana City Council resolution to make sure the city budget includes all of a recent hike in the fee for 911 dispatch service has been deferred.
Aldermen Dennis Roberts (D - Ward 1) and Charlie Smyth (D - Ward 5), who voted against the measure in committee, moved Monday night to delay council action for two weeks. Council members Diane Marlin (D - Ward 7) and Bill Brown (D - Ward 4) made the original proposal, after learning that the current Urbana city budget does not include money to cover the increase in payments to METCAD.
Mayor Laurel Prussing says the delay will give her more time to negotiate a more gradual phase-in of the $94,000 increase in the city’s fee for METCAD. That’s the dispatch center for 911 service Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, the University of Illinois campus and Champaign County.
Mayor Prussing says the jump in Urbana’s METCAD fee was left out of the budget, because with financial problems compounded by the state budget impasse, the city can’t afford to pay for the increase all at once. Prussing says she wants to work out a plan to spread the increase out over time.
“I want Urbana to pay its fair share, but I want it to be something that doesn’t make us have to lay off police officers to pay for dispatchers,” said Prussing on Monday afternoon.
Prussing says she’ll be meeting next week with Champaign city officials who administer the METCAD program. She says METCAD board members that she’s talked to so far seem willing to consider stretching out the payments.
Prussing says METCAD fees for Urbana and Champaign went up sharply after payments were reformulated, with the extension of METCAD service to the village of Rantoul. But the mayor says real problem is that state funding for downstate 911 service has gone down, because it relies on a fee levied on landline phones ---- when more and more people are replacing their landlines with cell phones. Prussing wants METCAD to lobby state lawmakers to change the funding formula.