Sunday, December 27, 2015

Emails Reveal County Administrator Blaming Police Chiefs; County Dispatch Plan Breaks Even with Only Half the Towns Participating

Emails released may put a damper on the County-Wide Dispatch Plan and leave County Administrator Jerry DelRosso with some explaining to do.

On December 3, 2015, Galloway Township News broke the story about Atlantic County and Stockton University entering into an estimated $31 million dollar contract for a Countywide Dispatch Center and Stockton Police Center.  The catch however was every taxpayer in Atlantic County would pay the majority of the bill for years.

Galloway Township News waited almost a month before the County would release documents regarding the Countywide Dispatch Center only after having been met with resistance from Jennifer Starr who is the Assistant County Counsel. 

The documents the County released were poorly blacked out (redacted) by the County stating the content was exempt because it contained Inter-agency or intra-agency advisory, consultative or deliberative material.

Since Atlantic County opted not to release the documents in full specifically from other government agencies, then Galloway Township News spent the past several weeks obtaining those documents from the government / state agencies including the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), Monmouth County Sheriffs Office, Stockton University and Sussex County that Atlantic County would not release.

One document suspiciously not even released by Atlantic County but obtained from Sussex County was an email from County Administrator Jerry DelRosso to John Eskilson, Sussex County Administrator in 2012. 

DelRosso states, "it was the police chiefs that killed the initial attempt", referencing the County-wide dispatch center.  "It has been difficult getting the towns to respond to some basic financial information so we can demonstrate the savings by town and as a county" DelRosso further stated in his email.  

The most interesting part of the email is the next line DelRosso reveals to Eskilson. "In particular with projected costs we are right on the cusp of break even with roughly 50% of the towns in. If Atlantic City came in we would demonstrate that the county can do the service in a more efficient manner, financially, in communication systems (have one system not 4 or 5), same CAD system (not 3 or 4), and most importantly safety."

County Administrator Jerry DelRosso reveals in 2012 that the County could sustain the cost of the County-wide dispatch center with only half of the Atlantic County municipalities participating. Such statement raises questions of what would the County do with the surplus from the other half of the municipalities in county taxes they were hoping to collect based on their presentation to all of the Atlantic County Mayors in 2015. Such presentation was based on the 2012-2013 figures DelRosso references in his email. 

At a time when the economy is dire in Atlantic County, that statement has left Mayors concerned with the Counties initial intent with the Dispatch Plan.

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 still has not provided help to those Mayors with growing concern of costs.

Since the meeting on December 8th, Atlantic County Governing Bodies began adopting resolutions in opposition of the County-wide Dispatch Center.  Such opposition has stretched across the County rapidly.  The County at some point will have to announce whether they will continue with the plan of County-wide Dispatch or table it before Stockton University pulls out of the agreement.

Galloway Township News has released some of the emails obtained through the other agencies without redactions. If anyone is interested in obtaining all the documents, please email and we will be happy to release them.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the county is pushing this so they ca skim off the top. Why not charge the towns a year behind based on what it actually costs? I knew someone was getting a pay day off this somehow. nice job GTN!

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