To the Editor:
Millburn residents should not support outsourcing police dispatch under any circumstances. Millburn administrators already admit they know it will increase response times to Millburn residents. Our police do a good job, and we should not be looking to degrade it, especially with an increase in crime, including home invasions. This is the wrong
place to be looking for cuts.
However, if we had no other choice, Livingston is the last place we should want to send police dispatching!
Livingston has shown complete disregard for the quality of life and property rights of Millburn residents in promoting the development plans of the TMB Partners property site at the edge of a residential section of Millburn, on South Orange Avenue. This will dump the economic and environmental costs of their own mistakes (related
litigation and zoning decisions) onto their neighbor, Millburn Township. They have rezoned and green-lighted the construction of a massive apartment structure, in a flood zone, next to Millburn Township borders, over the objections of Millburn residents. By restriction, they will force traffic associated with this development through Millburn residential areas. The punchline is they expect Millburn to provide sewer service to the site, in violation of a valid contract between Millburn and Livingston. They relied on that 'assumption' to justify the feasibility of the development.
Millburn should be looking not only at budget reductions, but revenue increases from non-tax sources. In fact, one is available. None other than Livingston Township is underpaying for the sewer service provided by Millburn, under a contract, according to the available information. A contract which Livingston has now clearly signaled they intend to
abrogate by allowing the construction of apartments and more than 10 units of any housing, on the site on South Orange Avenue. The contract expressly excludes service to more than 10 units of housing or any apartments on the site. In 1995, a New Jersey Tax Court ruling found that Livingston was wrong to presume Millburn would provide sewer
service under this contract to a nearby site, should it be developed for any use, without even considering the specific exclusions! Expert testimony was one-sided in support of this conclusion. (East Orange v Livingston, Judgement from Tax Court of NJ Docket No. 07-10-9317-35-91D June 29, 1995)
Among other opportunities to increase revenues, records related to the sewer contract show that Livingston is paying for service to only 350 beds at St. Barnabas Hospital, while the hospital indicates it has at least 597 beds, according to their web-site. Livingston is also likely paying for fewer regular housing units than currently being served
under the contract. The contract specifies per-unit payments with accounting adjustments for volumes. The units have never been adjusted by Millburn since 1991, when the current contract was first written.
Before considering cutting police response capability, Millburn should be looking at maximizing revenue for our services under the existing sewer contract. Our police department should not have to lose jobs before Millburn has evaluated other sources or revenue and alternative cuts. Why not get properly paid by Livingston before we think about cutting police jobs and service?
Should Millburn Township downgrade our own police service? Should we continue to offer Livingston a discount on sewer service during a time of tight budgets? Should we accept the cost dumping, quality of life and property value crushing development activities of Livingston? Should we, at the same time, reward Livingston with a new police
dispatching contract? No, no, no and no. What has happened to common sense?