Editor's Note: The following is a preliminary report from the Jan. 8 Lawrence Township Council meeting. A more detailed account, together with full audio from the meeting, will appear on Lawrenceville Patch in the coming days.
Lawrence Township council members, during their four-hour meeting last night (Tuesday, Jan. 8), agreed to postpone for two weeks their decision whether to privatize police/911 emergency dispatching services by awarding a contract to Cranbury-based iXP Corporation, or reject iXP’s bid and maintain the existing setup of the township’s police communications center being staffed by municipal employees.
The delay will allow the unionized dispatchers to make a counter offer in the hope of saving their jobs.
During the meeting, Township Manager Richard Krawczun presented a detailed cost analysis showing that, for the five years from 2013 through 2017, it would cost the township $3,634,063 in base pay and benefits to staff the communication center with nine dispatchers, while iXP’s proposal to provide dispatching services came to $3,651,922 – or almost $18,000 more.
However, according to Krawczun, because of the 12-hour shifts that the municipally-employed dispatchers would work, the township would have to pay an additional $338,909 in “built-in” overtime over the course of those five years, making the proposal from iXP – which would absorb the cost of such overtime – about $321,000 less.
Krawczun urged council members to postpone making a decision on the matter until their next meeting on Jan. 22 to allow the dispatchers’ union some time to explore ways to reduce/eliminate the “built-in” overtime costs.
Also during last night’s meeting, township council approved a resolution ratifying the township’s new labor contract with its police officers.
The contract, outlined in detail during the meeting by Krawczun, covers the period from Jan. 1, 2013, through Dec. 31, 2015.
The police officers agreed to begin working a new 12-hour shift schedule and made concessions concerning longevity pay, pay grade steps, vacation time, sick leave at retirement, and other retirement benefits. There will be no salary increase during 2013, but the officers will receive cost of living increases of 1.95 percent in 2014 and 2.25 percent in 2015.
Meanwhile, Robert Filler, executive director of the Ewing-Lawrence Sewerage Authority, last night spoke to council about ELSA’s 2013 budget.
During that presentation, Filler announced that – thanks, in part, to higher-than-anticipated revenue generated last year through sewer connection fees assessed on new construction in Ewing and Lawrence, such as the Cheesecake Factory at Quaker Bridge Mall – there will be no increase in 2013 in the sewer rate paid by Lawrence Township customers.