Princeton to outsource 911 dispatch services

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By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Princeton made a “hard decision” this week to outsource its 911 dispatch services to save around $1.7 million in the next five years.
By a unanimous vote Monday, the Council gave IXP Corp., headquartered in Princeton Forrestal Village, a two-year-contract worth $864,840 a year. The town holds an option for a three-year-extension.
“The hard decision was deciding to switch to a new way of handling and operating the dispatch,” Mayor Liz Lempert said Tuesday.
IXP was the only firm to seek the contract, with Town Administrator Marc D. Dashield saying the deal is due to start in February.
“The exact date has not been determined yet as we have to work out the transition process,” he wrote in an email.
The current police communications center has a staff of 10, although there are five vacancies that the town did not fill as it explored outsourcing the service. The center, responsible for emergency and non-emergency calls around the clock, is supervised by a police lieutenant.
In a memo to the governing body, Dashield wrote that it costs $1.2 million in salaries, overtime and other costs to provide that service.
In a list of pros and cons of outsourcing, Dashield wrote the benefits include the roughly $1.7 million “savings over five years,” the “decreased police management investment” and that “personnel problems are dealt with by vendor,” among other things. The cons included that “inexperienced dispatchers will have considerable ‘learning curve.’”
The agreement means the five dispatchers will be laid off, and have to apply for a position with IXP.
“We didn’t hear any reason that they would not be hired,” said Council President Jenny Crumiller on Tuesday. “They have experience and they know the area.”
“They’re being encouraged to apply for the positions,” Mayor Lempert said.
Dashield’s memo says “all proposed hires of IXP will be subject to municipal approval.”
This would appear to be the only function of municipal government that officials can outsource to a private company.
“I haven’t heard any other opportunities like this,” Crumiller said.