April 3, 2014 at 6:45 AM
MILLBURN, NJ – The Township Committee voted this week to enter into a joint meeting dispatch service for the township’s police and fire departments. The move is expected to save taxpayers money and provide efficient dispatch service via high technology.
For more than 30 years, Millburn’s fire dispatch has been outsourced to the City of Summit. Police dispatch has been handled in-house. For some time, Summit has been working on creating a joint dispatch operation with New Providence.
Committeeman W. Theodore Bourke said that state mandates and budget restrictions put the town in a tough position. The upgrade that would be needed to Millburn’s dispatch equipment would cost $750,000. The equipment currently in use is considered obsolete and will not be supported much longer.
The new combined dispatch center would handle both police and fire for the three communities and would have a staff large enough to deal with multiple emergency calls simultaneously. It would utilize modern technology to ensure compliance with dispatch protocols and standards.
Additional benefits to moving to a shared services agreement include: 911 calls would not have to be transferred between agencies (police and fire); ability to capture federal and state funding; eliminate need for uniformed officers to fill in for dispatchers; eliminate duplicate IT costs and services; meets future state requirements.
Each of the three townships would have equal representation in the new “company.” It would be run by an Executive Director who will report to the representatives of the three towns. Dispatchers would focus on individual towns but be backed up by the others on duty to allow for higher volume in any one area.
A financial analysis presented by Bourke showed that entering into the joint meeting agreement compared to keeping things the way they are now would save taxpayers more than $730,000, with an ongoing annual savings on the operational costs of more than $200,000 per year.
Bourke did say that, “significant review and design work is absolutely required before cutting to the new process and system.” He assured those in attendance that a change would not be made until officials were sure that the new center had proper knowledge of Millburn and the system had been thoroughly tested.