HIGHTSTOWN: Shared dispatch services deal approved

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
HIGHSTOWN – Council approved a resolution authorizing a shared services agreement with East Windsor Township for dispatch services during its meeting on Tuesday night.
In a 4-2 vote, council approved the resolution. Council members Seth Kurs and Susan Bluth voted no due to concerns over language in the resolution.
“My only concern is that there are some paragraphs in there that leave us open to problems in the future,” said Council member Kurs. “Before we pass it, I would like to see those paragraphs tightened up a bit in the language less ambiguous.We are not looking at unintended, unexpected costs in the future because we are pushing through a resolution now that we all might want, but the language needs to be better to avoid any problems in the future.”
Council member Bluth agreed.
“I fully support the concept of the agreement,” she said. “I fully support sharing our municipality services with East Windsor. My concerns, as with Mr. Kurs, is I would like to see some of the language tightened up.”
She said she would be voting no only because of some of those language issues.
“I will be voting yes,” said Council member Steven Misiura. “I’m comfortable with the language in the contract.”
Council member Charles “Lee” Stults said that he is also is in support of the contract.
“Now you know why executive sessions were so tough,” said Mayor Larry Quattrone.
Hightstown Borough desires to enter into an agreement with East Windsor Township for dispatch services and East Windsor Township has agreed to provide said services to Hightstown Borough, according to the resolution.
Resident Eugene Sarafin raised questions and concerns over what council has been doing with the contract negotiations over the past two years during the first public comment portion of the meeting.
“You’ve been putting contract negotiations on this agenda for the last two years,” said he. “As a public, we never know whether you succeed or fail.”
Mr. Sarafin said there are no minutes taken and nothing is recorded so nobody knows what is discussed. He asked what came about in the negotiations and what the process was.
Resident Scott Caster asked the council “to just put Hightstown back together again.”
“I feel like it is just disappearing,” he said. “We don’t have a Borough Hall. We don’t have a police station that we can count on in the future. We don’t do our dispatch anymore. We lost Cranbury and I don’t think this is the end of it.”
Later on, during the second public comment portion, the citizens requested council to read and provide information on what the resolution was about that was just approved, including how much it is going to cost, how much the borough would be saving, the length of the contract, and more.
There is a need for dispatch services for Hightstown Borough’s police, fire, and EMS, the resolution read.
“It’s in the resolution,” Mayor Quattrone said.
Mr. Caster said “thank you very much” after not getting his questions answered.
“I think we all just lost right now,” he said.
During council reports, Mr. Kurs mentioned some of the key points of the resolution to help clear up some concerns raised by the public.
“All dispatch services will be provided by East Windsor,” he said. “East Windsor would pay for all maintenance of existing equipment and would be responsible for staffing, management, working and scheduling the dispatch center. Hightstown will pay for all expenses to interconnect all systems – radios, phones, security cameras, software, etc. If additional workstations are required we will have to negotiate that later and East Windsor will continue to monitor Hightstown security cameras.
Mr. Kurs said it is a five-year contract that either party can cancel with or without cause with 12 months notice.
“The contract is a $168,000 for the first year, a 3.5 percent increase each year thereafter with a penalty of 5 percent per month prorated daily for late payments,” he said.
According to the resolution, the deal may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties for up to two, one-year terms.
During a Nov. 10 East Windsor Township council meeting, dispatchers showed up at the council meeting and pleaded for their jobs.
“We do appreciate all of the comments. We take them to heart. We will take them very seriously,” said East Windsor Township Mayor Janice Mironov during that meeting. “As you know, we are looking at the subject but we have not made any decisions yet.”
The contract negotiations for dispatch services remained under closed session in the meeting following through the end of December.

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