Shared Dispatch Option Open for Westwood, Washington Township
Westwood Mayor John Birkner proposed the borough could host their own and Washington Township's emergency dispatching services to save money for both towns.
Shared dispatching is still an option for Westwood and Washington Township to save money, according to local officials.
Washington Township councilmen said at their meeting this week they were still open to investigating a proposal from Westwood Mayor John Birkner that the towns share emergency dispatching services. Birkner shared the idea in March and sent a proposal to township officials in April, but they had not yet given an official response because they wanted to know more about the capital costs associated with the plan.
According to a letter from Westwood Police Chief Frank Regino to the members of the Westwood Borough Police Committee, a test run with shared dispatching for the two towns "was relatively quiet." Dispatchers fielded about 24 calls during the eight-hour shift, about half of which were about a missing turkey, Regino wrote.
Township Council President Richard Hrbek said he and Mayor Janet Sobkowicz would try to meet with Westwood officials next week to discuss the plan further.
"I think it's a good idea to at least pursue it," Hrbek said.
The shared service would cost Washington Township about $124,500 for the first year and increase slightly each year for five years. Hrbek said the cost averaged out to about $131,000 per year. In May, Sobkowicz estimated running the dispatch desk in the township Police Department would cost about $438,000 this year.
Hrbek described Birkner's proposal as "a substantial savings, even below what the county cost would be."
Township officials have also been considering an offer from Bergen County to use their dispatching service based in Mahwah. Local emergency responders have spoken against the plan, saying that the county's dispatchers are not as familiar with the area as locals. Using county dispatching would cost at least $163,000 per year.
In Hillsdale, officials recently announced they would be performing their emergency dispatching with civilians in their police department, rather than using the county's service.