PRINCETON — The Princeton City Council has decided to pursue using the local BuEComm office to handle the city’s utility service emergency calls.
At Monday’s council meeting, Princeton City Manager Jeff Clawson reviewed the city’s options on how to cover utility service emergency calls once the city’s new water treatment plant goes into full operation. The current water treatment plant is staffed around the clock, but the new water treatment plant will be automated and not manned around the clock.
Clawson gave cost estimates for handling the emergency calls in-house, through the local BuEComm office, or through the private CRC company based in Minnesota, as was discussed last month by the council.
Looking at the costs of various city departments handling the emergency calls, Clawson said the in-house option would require hiring additional employees, based on the individual department, to provide around-the-clock coverage. Also, the city would have a one-time expense of about $25,000 to buy the needed equipment.
As far as the CRC company, Clawson said the Minnesota-based company specializes in emergency utility service management. Contact has been made with other utilities using CRC, and they are pleased with the service, Clawson said.
As far as BuEComm, Clawson said he and Mayor Keith Cain met last week with BuEComm Director Diana Stiles, and she’s confident BuEComm can handle the city’s service. Stiles said it would be a rare exception when an emergency call wouldn’t be answered by a person. BuEComm receives a lot of calls anyway when the electricity goes out. Additional staff would be hired to handle the increased service, Stiles said.
Cain said he’s much more confident about going with BuEComm after meeting with Stiles. He had received calls after last month’s council discussion from people who were concerned about going out of town for this service, the mayor said.
In his contacts with them, Clawson said both BuEComm and CRC are willing to do a six-month trial with the city.
From a cost-perspective, it makes more sense to go with either CRC or BuEComm, rather than handling it in-house, Commissioner Joel Quiram said. CRC is more affordable than BuEComm. If it turns out the city isn’t satisfied with CRC after the six-month trial, it can go with BuEComm, he said.
In response, Clawson noted BuEComm will drop its fee once the $16,000 cost of the new equipment is realized, making the BuEComm fee similar to CRC’s fee.
Commissioner Ray Swanson said another positive reason to go with BuEComm is because it’s employing more local people. For what little additional cost the city might have, he thinks it’s worth it, Swanson said.
After further discussion, the council directed Clawson to further pursue an arrangement with BuEComm, noting the BuEComm Board has not yet approved any arrangement at this point.
In other business, Clawson said the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the city another $243,000 in debt forgiveness on its loan for the water treatment plant, which is good news for the city.
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