Privatization of Lawrence Township’s police/911 emergency dispatching operations has been approved by township council.
As a result of a contract awarded by council during its meeting held earlier this evening (Tuesday, Jan. 22), Cranbury-based iXP Corporation will begin staffing the communications center at the township police station on April 1. The contract will run for two years, with the township having the option to award one three-year extension.
Other significant news coming out of tonight’s meeting include the appointment of zoning board chairman Stephen Brame to fill the vacancy on township council that was created when Greg Puliti resigned on Dec. 31; the announcement by Township Manager Richard Krawczun that the recently-created bulk trash fee will be set at $25 per residential property for 2013; and the release of the Krawczun’s recommended municipal budget for 2013, which includes a 5 cent increase to the municipal tax rate.
The meeting started out with Mayor Jim Kownacki briefly posing questions to the three candidates – Brame, planning board member Ian Dember and zoning board member Ed Wiznitzer – who were nominated by the Lawrence Township Democratic Committee to replace Puliti on council.
The issue of privatizing dispatch services came up shortly after Brame was unanimously selected as Puliti’s replacement and sworn into office by state Sen. Shirley Turner. Brame will serve the remaining year of Puliti's term.
For just over an hour council members listened as several township dispatchers, union officials, a police officer and members of the public made impassioned pleas urging them to reject privatization and keep the police communications center staffed by municipal employees.
In the end, Mayor Kownacki, Councilwoman Cathleen Lewis, Councilman Michael Powers and Councilman David Maffei all voted to award the privatization contract to iXP. Being newly appointed to council, Brame abstained from the vote.
The bid award was followed, as part of the manager’s report, by Krawczun’s presentation of his $42,986,598.78 municipal budget recommendation for 2013.
(A PDF copy of the recommended budget, as distributed at the meeting, can be found in the media box above.)
As part of that budget, a 5 cent increase to the municipal tax rate – increasing to $0.94 per $100 of assessed property value from $0.89 – is recommended.
“The impact upon a residential property owner at the average assessed value of $160,262 will be $80.13 or $6.68 per month. Therefore, a residential property owner with a township average assessed value will pay $8.76 more monthly when combined with the bulk trash fee,” Krawczun said, reading from the narrative included within the budget recommendation document.
Krawczun also noted that township ratables declined another $27,093,823 in the last year, with the aggregate six-year loss to the taxable value of property in Lawrence Township now more than $194 million.
A more detailed report from township’s meeting, together with full audio from the meeting, will appear in the next few days.