Monmouth County Pushes Shared Services Plans [AUDIO]
Currently the shore regional dispatch center in Neptune handles police, fire, and EMT dispatch for Neptune, Asbury Park, Neptune City, Avon, and Spring Lake. Councilman Thomas Arnone says there is room for expansion in the regional center, and he expects more towns to sign on.
“The County is doing a pretty good job dispatching for them and it’s probably the wave of the future for many reason because we’re able to reduce costs to municipalities where they can reallocate that money.”
The current dispatching center in Neptune and the future Freehold facility field all of the police, emergency service, and OEM calls.
“They no longer have a dispatching center in their hometown.” Says Arnone. Whereas in the past county 9-1-1 centers routed calls to local offices which dispatched police, Instead the Freeholder says the new system will send 911 calls directly to law enforcement officers to save time and costs.
Adding most of the time they don’t even realize they’re calling the county because it’s the same number.
Arnone says around twenty towns are involved in the county wide emergency call service, with some towns only opting for police, fire, or emergency services. Arnone says Manalapan in the latest municipality to sign on for the new Freehold Center.
“Even some of the larger towns are starting to move over because they have to find in today’s world what way to reduce their costs and meet their cap restrictions.”
Additionally Arnone adds sharing services allows towns to reallocate police officers on the road rather than just dispatching.
Through the consolidation, Arnone is pleased to say that there hasn’t been any significant job loss. Noting so far the timing has worked out that current dispatchers are retiring or moving on to other fields. He notes the county needs to take on extra dispatchers and there has been no opportunity where the option to train for the county dispatching services were available.
As the former mayor of Neptune City and knowing how their budget work, Arnone says there is over two hundred thousand dollars in savings for the municipality. He says that for many towns they have to look at the future when considering the savings.
“You have to look at what you were paying for dispatching ten years ago and what you’re paying for it now, and then you have to envision what it would be ten years from now.”
Arnone says while examples of towns joining together to form collective fire or police companies have failed, what makes sharing services through the county efficient is that operating costs, contracts, equipment, and maintenance costs get absorbed through the county.
“Asbury Park has said they are saving six hundred thousand dollars a year coming over to us, and I can tell you Freehold Township is saving something similar to that.”
More so than the savings, Arnone says the new state of the art dispatching center will make residents feel safer.
“Moving into the future with what we are able to construct at our brand new center in Freehold is state of the art and marveled by pretty much every county and every municipality in the state of New Jersey.”
However he notes sharing services is beneficial for all parties involved, municipality and county.
“We’re looking to generate revenue too, we want to keep a hold on the line of our taxes too. ”