911 emergency call could be affected by Illinois budget impasse

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BELLEVILLE, IL (KPLR) - St. Clair County is taking the state of Illinois to court over funding for the county’s Emergency Telephone System Board. The state collects money from a cell phone tax, but has stopped distributing the money to Illinois counties because there is no budget agreement.

“I believe the state of Illinois is playing a dangerous game with the citizens of St. Clair County as far as public safety goes,” said Herbert Simmons, director of the St. Clair County ETSB.

He says the budget mess could lead to a reduction of services. He says the county expected a $125,000 payment for September and $125,000 for October. The lawsuit argues the money should be distributed even though there is no budget deal. Simmons says funding from the tax amounts to 72% of the agency’s budget.

“You take 72% out of your household budget and see how long you can last,” said Simmons.

Simmons says some leaders in Springfield have told him to either borrow money or dip into the agency’s reserves. Simmons believes reserves should be used for when equipment unexpectedly breaks.

“That’s what your reserves should be for,” said Simmons. “Not because the state of Illinois can’t get their act together, and get a budget in place to make sure 911 is covered.”