Urbana Again Seeks Funding Aid Before METCAD Board
For the second straight year, the city of Urbana plans to ask the county’s 911 operators for help in making its payments. Mayor Laurel Prussing plans to make the request, after a city council proposal to put the full payment in the budget fell short of passage Monday night.
The city was $125,000 short in its payments to METCAD last year.
The METCAD Policy Board allowed Urbana to pay back the money they owed over five years. Mayor Prussing says she’ll ask METCAD later this month to let them spread out another $94-thousand owed to the agency over that same time period.
METCAD Director Ralph Caldwell says all the other communities that rely on his agency for 911 service are paying their payments on time. But he says he’s seeking ways to come to terms with Urbana.
“I really don’t want to see attorneys get involved, and to say ‘your agreement says this and you need to sever ties with Urbana," he said. "So I’m hoping that the policy board can resolve some of these issues, and get through this fiscal year, and then I’m sure we’ll have to address everybody’s budgets next year.”
Caldwell likens Urbana’s request to asking METCAD to loan them the money. But Prussing says her request for extended payments is more like refinancing a mortgage.
"All this is doing is smoothing it into the future instead of having these huge increases at the beginning," she said. "Now they're evening it out over time."
The mayor says the root cause of their METCAD problem is the state legislature, which she says has failed to raise the 9-1-1 surcharge on downstate phone bills to match rising expenses. Prussing it's a problem everywhere in the state but Chicago, where local leaders in 2014 increased the fee to $3.90 for cell phones and landlines.
The METCAD Policy Board meets November 19.