The Washington Township Committee continues to make strides toward becoming part of the Morris County Dispatch System as early as Sept. 1, provided certain aspects of a contract could be worked out in that time.
The Morris County Dispatch System currently serves 22 of 39 municipalities throughout Morris County, and joining would help Washington Township eliminate the costs it would incur by making its own technological updates.
Such updates include repairs to a communications tower used by Washington Township that is located in Mount Olive, as well as an upgrade to a narrowband radio communications frequency. All municipalities will be required by federal law to operate under a narrowband frequency by January 1, 2013. If the township were to join the county’s system, such upgrades would be paid for by the county; otherwise, the township would have to pay for the upgrades itself.
“(Narrowbanding) is certainly something we have to comply with, and this comes into play at a time that, if they (the county) can handle it, then go for it," said committee member Bill Roehrich.
“This is the time where we have a lot more facts and transparency on the part of the county,” added Vice Mayor James Harmon. “The savings are clear, and the opportunity is very clear.”
The township had the opportunity to take part in the county’s system two years ago. However, talks fell through after the township learned of the high cost of enrollment, as well as the notion that the county’s dispatch coverage may not have been as reliable, at the time, as the service Washington Township had been providing itself.
Now, those two issues appear to be cleared up; the township looks to save about $535,000 of the cost it would have incurred two years ago, all for a service that is estimated to be more reliable than the service the township would have received two years ago.
“It looks like it’s a good deal financially and we should have as good, or better, service,” said committee member Jim LiaBraaten.
The township still has issues to resolve before entering into a contract with the county, however; these would include hammering out the costs and necessity of radios. The county program charges an annual fee of $200 for each radio on its system. It is the goal of the township to see how many radios it would need on the system before moving forward.
The committee also wants to discuss what would become of current dispatchers employed by the township. Since enrolling in the county’s dispatch system would mean the elimination of the system exclusive to Washington Township, the committee would like further clarification on the hiring process for current Washington Township dispatchers that would seek employment with the county.