On November 15, 2015, Galloway Township News had submitted two Open Public Records Requests with Atlantic County regarding the Countywide Dispatch Center. Documents between the years of 2012 and 2015 were sought.
Now, almost a month later after waiting for the County to release the documents and after having been met with resistance from Jennifer Starr who is the Assistant County Counsel, the County released documents that are almost of no use. About 80% of the documents were poorly blacked out by the County stating in our opinion an invalid exemption.
The County claims the documents are Inter-agency or intra-agency advisory, consultative or deliberative material. Yet, if they were truly deliberative material, wouldn't these documents be imperative for the municipalities to have in order to make an informed decision that could potentially cost taxpayers $31 million dollars for a building and $9 million dollars a year in operational costs?
At a time where twenty-three Atlantic County Mayors have to face their governing bodies with an important decision of whether their town supports or opposes the County plans for a centralized county-wide dispatch center, the County appears to give no help to those Mayors in order to make an informed decision.
Galloway Township News has released the documents below so each Mayor and municipality can see what the County does not want them to have.
On Tuesday, December 8, 2015, County Executive Dennis Levinson gave a presentation to a room full of Mayors, Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs and other Administrative Staff. The main concern of the Mayors was the towns did not have enough information in order to make a decision. It appears the County has provided no help to those Mayors.
Galloway Township News was the first to report that Atlantic County and Stockton University had entered into an estimated $31 million dollar contract for a Countywide Dispatch Center and Stockton Police Center. But the catch was every taxpayer in Atlantic County would flip the majority of the bill for years to come and municipalities would have to layoff their 9-1-1 Dispatchers.
Right now each municipality in Atlantic County either has their own dispatching services or contracts with another town or nearby county. Twelve (12) of the twenty-three (23) Atlantic County municipalities will have an increase into the total cost of dispatching services if the County takes over those duties. Some of those increases are more than doubled the normal costs. That did not sit well with a majority of the Mayors.
The dispatch center, if approved, is projected to be located in Galloway Township on property owned by Stockton University.