With November's municipal election nearing, candidates for town council are releasing their campaign platforms to the public.
Part of every elected officials vision for Westfield should be to cut wasteful spending and mismanagement of assets.
As a voter, I'd like to know why current town officials have approved the acquisition of surplus military equipment from the federal government, much of which is being stored out of view in old shipping containers, or other enclosed structures, at the conservation center on Lamberts Mill Road.
Surely, the cost of the equipment's maintenance, insurance and acquisition, which include the overtime paid to municipal employees to pick up and deliver the equipment from out of state, imposes unnecessary costs on the Westfield taxpayer.
While I understand the need for humvees to replace patrol vehicles during major snowstorms and hurricane related events, and the benefits of the acquired bulldozer for use at the conservation center, I don't know why town officials approved the acquisition of two zodiac boats powered by what appear to be outboard engines in excess of 150 horsepower strapped to the back.
These “toys” have no use in Westfield where the largest body of water is Mindowaskin Pond, Tamaques Park pond, Brightwood Park pond or Gregory's Pond, which is located at the very end of Clark Street, across Brightwood Avenue ... all of which have been accessed with a rowboat in the past.
These military assault boats are built for use on large bodies of water or rivers and propelled by engines built for speed. Where in Westfield do we need these boats?
Westfield purchased an emergency mobile command center and other vehicles/equipment associated with the command center that cost taxpayers close to $300,000.
Since the acquisition of the emergency mobile command center, it has spent more time dispatched to non-emergencies outside the borders of Westfield, including numerous holiday and street party events in Hoboken, than it has responding to emergencies within our town.
Why Hoboken? Westfield does not have any shared service agreements with Hoboken on file.
Town officials claim that the emergency mobile command center and its generator provide backup for the municipal building and its police department's communication system. Isn't that why the building already has a backup generator? Doesn't the Union County Police department provide emergency backup communications for the WPD?
Westfield maintains a “SWAT” team to respond to specific threats and other related events. Westfield's CRTU (Community Response Tactical Unit) ... a less imposing name other than SWAT,
incurs additional costs for training, uniforms, ammunition, overtime-related activities and other associated costs.
Why the redundancy? Union County has UCERT (Union County Emergency Response Team) that relies on members of each Union County police department to supply officers to the unit that respond to “SWAT" related calls for service. This has been a successful partnership between municipal police departments in Union County for a long time.
The need for fiscal responsibility falls at the feet of our elected officials who are expected to manage Westfield taxpayers money responsibly, efficiently and transparently.
I wish all the candidates running for elected office this coming November the best of luck and I hope they will answer the questions asked.
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