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Township Moves Toward Joining County Dispatch System

No official contract stands, but Township Committee is optimistic a deal can be reached.

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.

Thomas Lotito March 23, 2011 at 12:11 PM
Thank you JM, the answer is in the article like I previously stated. Instead of getting angry and hurling out partisan accusations, why don;t you e-mail Jim Liabraaten ans ask him for yourself? There's no need to be so anxious about this change, with the current downward trend in housing and economy, the township committee will not sign on to new expansion projects that will exceed the 2% cap mandated by law. As a matter of fact, the current trend in local government is shared services, which will amount to overall savings to the taxpayer.
James Morris March 26, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Again, why is the service at Morris County better? Liabraaten made the statement, he should support it. What's wrong with our current dispatch? Too expensive? Well, we pay far more for fire prevention than police protection. There is more crime than fire, so how about disbanding one of the three fire departments. We could save a bundle. One third less fire trucks to buy. Mr Lotito, you are a name caller. You seldom answer a question directly, just like the GOP committee. I'm not angry, I just anticipate bad things coming from a course of action that has not been discussed in the open. It appears that in Long Valley members of the GOP can say anything or spew any number they want without the facts to back them up and it's OK. What facts have been discussed that would leave the taxpayers to believe this is better? None that I have seen. The GOP seldom discloses all the details of a project they have been determined to ram through. Instead of hurling out partisan defenses, why don't you tell me the details if you are so behind it? OH! I know, it's because no one knows.
Thomas Lotito March 26, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Jim, if you're so anxious about the details of the change over, why don't you OPRA request the information you seek or go to a committee meeting and ask Mr. Liabraaten directly? I'm sure more information about the situation will emerge in the days to come. Moreover, why do have so much anxiety about the Township committee? The township committee is elected to represent the taxpayers and do the towns fiduciary business. Are you implying that every time the TC makes a decision they have to go voters to get their approval? That said, the questions you raise are valid, I encourage you to pursue answers.
Peter Griese March 29, 2011 at 01:34 AM
Mr. Morris stated “ we pay far more for fire prevention than police protection. There is more crime than fire, so how about disbanding one of the three fire departments. We could save a bundle. One third less fire trucks to buy.” I’m having a tough time figuring out how a FULLY VOLUNTEER fire dept. could possibly cost more than a 30 member police dept.? Apparatus purchases over the last decade have been based on rigs that were 20 yrs old or more and historically have been bonded over time. I am an 18 year member now serving my second term as Chief of the Long Valley Vol Fire Co. During my years as a company officer I have attended many budget meetings where I have repeatedly stated to members of the committee what a bargain the town gets for its fire protection. My fire service experience goes back 29 years, employed in a large urban fire dept, currently holding the rank of Battalion Chief, so I feel pretty secure in my fire safety opinions. As for Mr. Morris’ statement regarding closing one of the three companies, Washington Township is 45 square miles; that’s a lot of ground to cover if we were to go down to 4 engines from the current 6 as he suggests ! The safety of the members under my command as well as the residents that we serve is my primary concern when I leave my home for a call. The township committee has reached out to the volunteer emergency services regarding the radio coverage and has worked with us and listened to our concerns.
Jules Rifflard June 08, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Go get them Pete! Job well done as always. Jules Rifflard


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