Patch Readers: No Cuts to Police
Respondents to our poll said the council needs to maintain the police and road departments and cut elsewhere.
Patch users want the Township Council to avoid cutting police, public safety and road services, according to a poll on balancing the township’s budget that ran over the weekend.
An earlier poll on Patch showed overwhelming support for municipal trash collection.
The most recent poll, which was unscientific, attracted 384 votes and 28 comments.
The budget cuts are necessary because a tax referendum, which sought permission to raise the municipal tax rate 9 cents above the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap, was rejected by township voters by a 2-1 margin on April 24, with more than 3,700 total votes cast. Township officials said they would make a decision on the budget by May 15.
The results of the poll, which asked “What services and programs should the township maintain at all costs?” were:
- Road department — 33 percent
- Recreation and youth programs — 1 percent
- Senior services — 1 percent
- Police — 51 percent
- Fire and Rescue services — 9 percent
- Dispatch — 3 percent
- Business advocate — 1 percent
Patch users offered a variety of suggestions on how the township should balance the budget going forward. A sampling of these comments follows:
Joe Friday: “We cannot cut emergency services. The police department already has had a 10 percent reduction on personnel since 2008. The EMS service is already overworked and the reality is that they should be running two ambulances during the day and not just one. They rely on mutual aid to supplement the one ambulance they have on duty at all times. The Fire Department does a fine job with limited resources.
Lawrence Township has been in discussions with Ewing and Hopewell for years on a consolidated dispatch center for all three towns. This dispatch center would be based out of the police station here in Lawrence. Lets make this a reality. As it currently stands, a police officer making six figures is routinely pulled off of the road to work as a dispatcher due to the lack of dispatchers in all three towns. A consolidated, central dispatch center for all three towns would allow for the cops in all three towns to stick to working as cops and not dispatch duties. Having several dispatchers making less then half of what a patrol officer makes while ensuring that we have no cops working in dispatch and instead on the road is a win-win for all involved. This makes too much sense and I do not know why it hasn't happened yet. Mercer County already has a consolidated dispatch for fire and EMS and police dispatch should be next. This could easily save each town a few hundred thousand dollars a year while improving dispatch services for all three towns.
Chief Wahoo: “(This) Still doesn't get to the systemic problem. Cops cost way too much for their total package per cop. Cut their cost per cop in half and you can hire many more that are needed and still save money. No cop is worth $100,000-plus a year. Time to wake up to that reality.”
Patrick: “I'd pay them 150K a year, and teachers the same. Why do we live in a country that values making money on other peoples backs, yet demeans those that make us a better people. I don't get it, never will. Romney is offering this, “I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.” The problem is his version of success. There is no place for social workers, police, firefighters or teachers in that plan, because it is based on what you bring home, not what you provide to your country. There is a problem in this country, and it is how we gauge a person’s worth. We now seem to have the collective desire of Gordon Gekko, greed is good.”
Double Trouble: “How about we give the walking trail a break for bit? We are talking layoffs and cuts so lets not offend the taxpayers with another cent on this pet project.”
iManPod: “I am really surprised by all of the comments and votes to cut. The reason is that unless you work for the police or road department how could you really make a good decision of where cuts can be made? Like it or not the two departments most voted for cuts are the two departments that have already been cut the most. Parks are being mowed half the amount of times as past years. Weed wacking is essentially nonexistent on township properties. The police are down to bare minimum. Just about everyday there are a few officers on overtime because each shift is at minimum staffing. Public works has no minimum staffing level. If someone doesn't show up it's usually not a matter of safety. If a car flips over on Route 1 at rush hour there need to be enough officers to safely direct traffic and render aid. There is also the rest of the town that needs to be attended to during such an accident. Unless you really have knowledge about how these two departments operate it is unfair to suggest cutting. I trust that council and the manager will work to make the necessary changes to the budget without taking in all of this banter.
While this poll has closed, we do not want the debate to end. Feel free to keep commenting and offering suggestions.