Summit Council Renews 29-Year-Old Agreement with Millburn on Joint Fire Dispatching Services; City Employees Cited for 25 Years of Service

Eileen Keating's family congratulates her on 25 years of service with the City of Summit. Credits: Bob Faszczewski
Summit Mayor Ellen Dickson reads a proclamation congratuling Jeffrey McNamara on 25 years of service to the city. Credits: Bob Faszczewski

SUMMIT, NJ—As Summit and New Providence prepare to embark on a joint emergency dispatch system—probably going into operation later this year—the Hilltop city has taken a step to renew a shared service agreement first signed before shared services were becoming the norm.

The Summit Common Council voted on Tuesday to renew its compact with Millburn for joint operation of fire dispatch services—a cooperative venture that has been in operation since 1983. It is also likely that agreement will continue as part of the Summit-New Providence joint venture.

In another milestone at Tuesday’s session Mayor Ellen Dickson presented gifts to Eileen Keating, municipal court administrator, and Firefighter Jeffrey McManus, both for 25 years of service to the city.

Also cited for 25 years or more of service, both unable to be present at the meeting, were Firefighter Daniel Harvis and Jesus Ruiz of the department of public works.

On another matter, the council approved an ordinance appropriating $500,000 for drainage work in the vicinity of Memorial Field.

Councilman Robert Rubino, chairman of the public works committee, explained drainage work would be done in the vicinity of the headwaters of the Salt Brook, which flow under the field, to alleviate flooding in the Brayton School and to the pedestrian bridge near the school.

Councilman Thomas Getzendanner added the flood control project was one of the top priorities cited by city engineer Aaron Schrager and was a much more necessary and worthwhile expenditure of city funds than the fullday kindergarten program proposed by the board of education.

David Bomgaars, council finance chair, added the proposed work would include fencing off entrances to the brook and a tunnel along the brook that often attracts students from Brayton School.

The governing body also approved $125,000 for the purchase of fire suppression and surveillance equipment for municipal parking lots.

Also authorized was renewal of a contract allowing the Summit Post Office to park its vehicles in the Railroad Avenue parking lot at a yearly rental of $15,132.

General Services Committee member, Gregory Drummond, explained the agreement had been clarified to make note of the fact that the post office vehicles would be moved to the first floor of the Broad Street parking garage the night before a predicted snowfall so that the city could plow the post office lot.

Getzendanner, referring to the parking lot measures, again said it would be more cost efficient for the city to get out of the parking lot business and turn the operation of its lots over to a private vendor. This particular applies, he said, to the tiered parking lot that, at 25 years old, has reached the end of its useful life.

He added a private vendor probably would tear the lot down and replace it with a more modern facility that it could operate at a profit.

The council also authorized an administrative services agreement with Senior Connections, Inc. for continued operation of the city’s senior citizens bus service.

Drummond noted the agency pays the city $25 per hour for providing management services for the bus service.

Getzendanner said a private endowment that has allowed the service to remain in operation would soon be expiring and the council should look into a replacement for the endowment.

On other financial matters, both Getzendanner and Councilman Patrick Hurley raised questions about the transfer of unused budget appropriations to accounts that experienced shortfalls at the end of this year.

Getzendanner again called for unused appropriations to be sequestered for possible tax relief and Hurley said he had some specific questions about some of the transfers.

Bomgaars said the finance committee had not yet decided on sequestration and many of the transfer were needed due to shortfalls caused by last year’s two storms and Hurricane Sandy.

Council President Richard Madden, however, advised Hurley to discuss his specific questions with Chief Financial Officer Scott Olsen after the meeting.

On another matter, Dickson announced that board of education member, Anne Burton, would be resigning because she was moving from the city and an offer had been extended to a person who would replace Burton.

The mayor also announced a new library director was expected to start work after Jan. 1.

Council members and the public, prior to the start of Tuesday’s meeting, observed a moment of silence in memory of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting victims.

On that matter, Police Chief Robert Weck said the city’s police department and the school system work hand-in-hand to insure the safety of all Summit school children.

He noted a DARE officer and a juvenile officer are available throughout the school year and the city, after the Columbine, Colorado shootings, had formed its own active shooter response team to deal quickly with incidents in any city schools.

The chief added the city also works closely with Union County to promote school safety.

On a related matter, former Mayor Jordan Glatt noted that Summit’s congressional representative, Leonard Lance, had a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association on gun control matters. He asked the council to push Lance to modify his views and to support a federal ban on assault rifles.

Dickson said she would ask Lance about his views on gun control, especially concerning assault rifles.

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