911 center asks Channahon to issue bonds for new building
By Jeanne Millsap Correspondent January 9, 2013 9:56AM
Updated: February 14, 2013 6:21AM
WESCOM 911, or the Western Will County Communications Center, needs more space in a sturdier building capable of withstanding strong storms, and the agency’s board of directors is looking to the village of Channahon to secure financing for the construction.
Several from WESCOM attended a Channahon village board meeting to ask trustees if they would be willing, as a home-rule community, to issue general obligation bonds for the project.
The 911 and dispatch center is in the Plainfield Law Enforcement Building and is cramped, said WESCOM Executive Director Steve Rauter. The agency’s board has already purchased 3.4 acres behind its current site and has plans ready to go for the larger “bunker-like” brick building.
WESCOM initially tried to get a bond rating itself from Moody’s, but was unsuccessful, Rauter explained, and even though the agency is a unit of local government, it cannot levy a tax.
Of the municipalities in which its eight member police departments and 12 fire departments reside, there are three home-rule communities that would be able to issue bonds for the money to build, Rauter said. Of those, only Channahon is in a position to take that responsibility.
The responsibility concerned Channahon trustees.
“Who’s guaranteeing the bond payment?” Trustee Jerry Papesh asked.
Papesh said he was concerned about WESCOM’s cash flow. If the agency should go under or if members were to drop out, WESCOM’s revenue would decrease, potentially enough to cause a shortfall of cash that would render it unable to meet the bond payments.
“It is a general obligation bond,” Village Attorney Dave Silverman said. “The village of Channahon would have to meet those payments.”
WESCOM officials said they would maintain an account with reserves enough to meet one year of bond payments. The agency also has $850,000 of equity in the land purchased, along with annual revenues of about $550,000 above operating expenses.
Founded in 1992 as an area emergency dispatch center, WESCOM receives emergency 911 calls and alarm calls from departments in Grundy, Will and Kendall counties, including police departments of Plainfield, Shorewood, Channahon, Lockport and Crest Hill and fire departments of Plainfield, Troy, Channahon, Lockport, Rockdale, Wilmington and Minooka.
The new building will have plenty of room for expansion, trustees were told, and will be designed to withstand an F4 tornado. Channahon Village President Joe Cook said it could also be used to store valuable village materials, such as back-up servers.
The board asked the village attorney and staff to look into the request and report back to them on the risks and benefits at the next village board meeting.
If Channahon trustees approve the request, bonds could be sold as soon as March, ground could be broken in April, and the building could be occupied by the end of the year.