What Sheena Collum has proposed is the elimination of the South Orange Fire Department, and that, we are certain, would be a disaster for our village.
An unreleased proposal sent from Maplewood to South Orange in 2018, that Collum has stood by yet has refused to make public, demonstrates why we need greater public transparency around this issue.
The Shared Service Agreement Between the Township of Maplewood and the Township of South Orange Village, recently requested by Deborah Davis Ford, clearly outlines that threat:
§4.1 Respective roles and responsibilities of Maplewood and South Orange
§4.1.1 Maplewood, through its Township Committee, shall have all power, authority and responsibilities a municipality may have pursuant to New Jersey law in order to maintain and operate a paid fire department. Such power, authority and responsibilities specifically relates to the MSOFD and includes the responsibility to budget and pay for all MSOFD operating expenses and capital costs, including the financing of all new equipment regardless where such equipment may be housed.
Providing for the public safety of residents is among the foremost functions that local government performs.
The South Orange Forward team is committed to protecting public safety and preserving the South Orange Fire Department.
We are also committed to bringing real transparency to issues of public importance and call on Village President Sheena Collum to release the full draft proposal immediately.