CHANNAHON — The leaders of WESCOM 9-1-1, or the Western Will County Communications Center, are asking the village of Channahon to help them finance a new building.
The agency is very cramped in its current site, leasing space at the Plainfield Police Department, according to WESCOM Executive Director Steve Rauter, and needs a larger building of its own.
Founded in 1992 as an area emergency dispatch center, WESCOM receives emergency 911 calls and fire and security alarm calls and dispatches appropriate emergency personnel. Twenty police and fire departments from Grundy, Will, and Kendall counties are affiliated with WESCOM, including police departments of Plainfield, Shorewood, Channahon, Lockport, and Crest Hill and fire departments of Plainfield, Troy, Channahon, Lockport, Rockdale, Wilmington, and Minooka.
The agency has already purchased property behind the Plainfield PD for its new building. It is not allowed to levy tax to pay for the building, even though it is a unit of local government. When it went through Moody’s rating process, it was unable to secure its own bond rating.
That’s when the executive committee decided to ask its three home-rule communities if they would be able to issue general obligation bonds to finance the building.
Of the three communities — Plainfield, Elwood, and Channahon — according to Rauter, Channahon is the only one that is able to issue the bonds at this time.
The problem, Channahon trustees discussed at Monday’s village board meeting, will be the responsibility of meeting those payments should WESCOM come up short of the approximate $350,000 needed annually. Channahon would then be responsible for the debt.
Rauter assured trustees that there is plenty of income to the agency that goes directly to capital, such as the fire and security alarm calls ($315,000 a year), grants from the ETSB ($217,000 a year), and special assessments ($19,000 a year). These are expected only to increase, he said, and not decrease.
The agency also has $850,000 of equity in the land purchased.
The new building will have plenty of room for expansion, trustees were told, and will be designed to withstand an F4 tornado. It will come with back-up generators and is basically being designed as a concrete bunker.
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 Channahon staff to look into the request further and report back to them at the next village board meeting on the risks and benefits.
Also this week, several ordinances were approved regarding the development of the Hammel property by Thornton’s.
Trustees approved annexing the land into village limits, rezoning the property from residential to commercial, and granting a special use permit for the Planned Unit Development. Trustee Judie Nash voted against the last ordinance, saying after the meeting that she believes the development would be too much like a truck stop, which she doesn’t want in the village.
The board also discussed the fact most Channahon residents saw some extra dollars in their pockets in December and January due to savings from two sources. December was the first month those who participated in the electric aggregation saw their savings, according to Village Administrator Joe Pena.
A savings of between $15 and $20 was also seen on residents’ Channahon utility bills from a tax rebate applied to the refuse portion of the bill. It is a one-time savings, according to Finance Director Bob Guess, from a $62,500 excess payment to the village from last year’s tax levy.
The village board this week also:
• Approved reducing the number of Class B liquor licenses in Channahon by one, after a representative of Taco Burrito King told the liquor commissioner that the business was not going to renew its license this year.
• Approved the collective bargaining agreement between Channahon and the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, Channahon Chapter 45.
• Trustee Debbie Militello was absent from this week’s meeting.