Munster pinpoints $550,000 in savings

Carolyn Thompson

MUNSTER | The town's efforts to reduce energy and improve technology operations have resulted in a savings of about $550,000, town leaders said.

Munster and 10 other local governments, including Cedar Lake, Crown Point, Dyer, East Chicago, Highland, Lake County, Lowell, Merrillville, Schererville and St. John, share police data with the Lake County Sheriff's Department through Spillman software. Spillman is centralized and handles all police records and dispatch information among the communities.

The joint effort saved about $500,000 because Munster does not have to pay for its own software package, said Lance Reinsma, information technology manager.

Munster gained $10,000 by using shared radio and mobile data terminals, eliminating the need for a backup dispatch center.

Police officers can look up combined community arrest histories before pulling over a vehicle.

“Having that information is making them more safe on the streets,” Reinsma said.

Town Manager Tom DeGiulio said productivity has improved.

He said the town saved $20,000 because 911 calls from each community go into the Spillman software and are available to all police officers.

The town also saved $8,000 because it didn't have to buy arrest forms. All police forms are created through the central software.

Another area of savings came through shared phone systems.

Reinsma said the town saved $30,000 in installation and maintenance by joining the service at Town Hall through a wireless technology package into Centennial Park and the new fire station/maintenance building.

“That saves us from having to buy a separate phone system for each,” he said

A $2,000 software program called Ghost manages the status of all of Munster's computers from one location. It can easily restore backup information without having a person to go to each site, saving on labor costs, Reinsma said.

Director of Operations Jim Knesek said the town hired Midwest Electric to maintain town-owned streetlight poles, mainly south of 45th Avenue and the new subdivisions, rather than pay the higher fees NIPSCO charges.