Lee County Board drafts resolution against state sweeping of 911 funds

Old Lee County Courthouse in Dixon is a site for early voting in the June 28 primary election.

DIXON - The Lee County Board approved a resolution against the state diverting $5 million from the 911 system with concerns that it will create a burden on local governments.

The state budget includes creating a fund for the 988 program, which launches in July through the Illinois Department of Human Services establishing a 24/7 call center for suicide prevention and mental health crisis.

Lee County 911 Director Shelley Dallas spoke to the County Board last month and said the 988 program is a good cause, but transferring $5 million to pay for it is a “critical misuse of 911 funding” that will create operational funding gaps falling on the shoulders of local municipalities.

The board drafted a resolution in response to the concerns and approved it unanimously during the group’s meeting Thursday.

According to the resolution, “this diversion will result in a funding gap for local 9-1-1 centers which must be paid by local units of government who have limited taxing abilities and are already working under their own existing budget constraints.”

It further states that “the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a report in 2021 addressing U.S. Congressional concerns over misuse of 9-1-1 surcharge funds, detailing acceptable expenditures for 9-1-1 surcharge funds of which the funding of the 9-8-8 initiative would not qualify.”

The resolution calls on the governor and General Assembly to delay the transfer of funds and find a different way to pay for the program.

The statewide 911 fund is funded from surcharges on phone bills consumers pay.

In April, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police issued a statement against taking the money away from the 911 system with concerns that it could jeopardize federal funding.

“The sweep of $5 million was done without the knowledge of law enforcement,” the statement said. “We are in close communication with the Illinois State Police and others about this to determine what our next best steps will be to protect our 911 centers and to make sure Illinois does not suffer any consequences from the feds by sweeping 911 funds.”

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.