Jan. 7 Council Meeting Summary

A few people have requested an overview of the rest of the council meeting so here’s a summary of the actions taken January 7, 2020:

  • the city will be ending its fire alarm monitoring program May 1, 2020 (impacted businesses will likely need to find their own service)
  • the assisted living license was updated to include a $5,000 fee for overusing emergency services for nonemergency transportation
  • Hotel Moraine might have a new owner soon

Fire alarm monitoring service will end

Starting May 1, 2020 Highwood plans to cancel its contract with Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) Center. City staff gave notice to RED Center of the city’s intent and is working on a service transition plan. 

When four or more units are connected, Highwood’s fire code requires a fire alarm monitoring system. Currently, Red Center Dispatch notifies the Fire Department when an alarm goes off. The RED Center is comprised of individuals who answer 911 calls and monitor alarm notifications. The City pays $2,296/month for the monitoring service (the cost is based on the cost of service for all communities in the cooperative divided by the call volume the previous year).

There are about 215 customers using the system in Highwood and individual users pay $40 per month.

But the city of Highwood will no longer require units to use the city-based system. Fire alarm users will need to select their own vendor once the city sponsored program is eliminated.

City manager Scott Coren said there may be a default option for users who do not do anything to find their own vendor, but the city is still negotiating that piece.

Coren said the city expects to be notifying individual users of their options sometime in February. 

Assisted living ordinance updated

In order to discourage assisted living facilities from using 911 as a form of nonemergency transportation, Highwood is amending the city code at the request of the City of Highland Park.

“[Highland Park has] a challenge with at least one of their assisted living facilities using the fire department as more of a transportation service as opposed to an emergency service,” City manager Scott Coren said.

While Highwood has just one assisted living facility (Aperion Care), Highland Park has 6 facilities.

“This is a problem obviously because it takes ambulances out of service for the rest of the territory,” Coren explained.

To discourage this unnecessary use of emergency transportation, Highland Park (and now Highwood) has imposed an impact fee if a facility uses the fire department excessively to transport patients. “Excessive” will be defined as more calls than beds. If the number of 911 calls for transport exceeds the number of beds in the facility that year, the facility will have to pay a $5,000 fee. According to Coren, the Highland Park Fire Department currently gets about a third as many calls as beds from Aperion.

According to Coren, Aperion has not come close to utilizing the Fire Department in this manner. So, unless Aperion’s management style changes significantly, this new ordinance should not negatively affect them.

The new ordinance language:

6-8-4: RENEWALS: For all applications for the renewal of an assisted living facility license, for an Assisted Living Facility to which the City received a quantity of requests for the provision of emergency medical services greater than the number of beds in such Assisted Living Facility, the applicant must also pay an Assisted Living Facility Impact Fee of $5,000 to offset the costs incurred by the City’s emergency services infrastructure caused by the high frequency of calls for service and cause at least one employee of the Assisted Living Facility charged with the responsibility of managing and overseeing the facility’s personnel, to attend an emergency medical services training class, completed within three months of license renewal, to be conducted by representatives of the Fire Department providing service to the community. 

Potential new buyer of Hotel Moraine

Hotel Moraine is looking to sell to a new party. The builder will still own the banquet and restaurant portion but the contract would put the operator in charge and hopefully get the building open by April 1.

The new buyer runs Plum Creek in Rolling Meadows. 

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