Commission approves new deputy 911 director position

LAKE COUNTY -- Despite some opposition, the Lake County Board of Commissioners approved creation of a new emergency management/deputy 911 director position to start Jan. 1.

"I have real concerns with this considering everything we've gone through with the budget," Commissioner Dawn Martin said. "Other departments are giving up positions, and we want to come into the fiscal year creating new positions. I just looks bad."

Commission Chairman Howard Ludholtz reminded the board that funding for the position will come from the Emergency 911 millage, not out of the general fund.

County Administrator Tobi Lake informed the board that historically there has been an assistant 911 director as well as a director, and it wan't until 2016 that the assistant position was eliminated.

"Perception-wise it may look like we are creating new positions while laying employees off," Lake said. "The reality is that two years ago the board created a ninth dispatch position and filled in as needed with part-time positions. If this is done right, it will help us out because the ninth dispatch position will be eliminated, and that will save money."

Commissioner Christine Balulis told the board that the person tapped for the position is already working in the department and putting a deputy director in place has been discussed for a while.

"This wasn't done quickly. It's taken a year to put it together and present it to the board so they would have all the necessary information to explain it to the public," Balulis added. "This motion just provides a clear job description and sets the pay level. We are preparing for a time when the current director is no longer there."

"I agree the optics look bad," Commissioner Robert Sanders said. "If it wasn't self-funding, I would be against it, but I have no problem going back to my constituents or an employee that's been effected and explaining why I voted for it. To fill this kind of position in the future, you're going to need someone with 911 experience who can also handle emergency management, and we have someone in place that can do that now."

"Whether it looks bad or not, we have to make the right decision, and I feel like that position needs some help," Commissioner Karl Walls said. "The person is already doing some of the work, and they have their own millage so the general fund is not going to be affected. There are so many ways this makes sense financially."

The motion carried by a vote of 6-1, with Commissioner Betty Dermyer voting against.