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Lawrence Council Considers Outside Bids for Emergency Dispatch

The Lawrence Council passed a resolution to accept competitive bids for emergency dispatch.

The Lawrence Township Council  Tuesday evening (Sept. 18) heard appeals from community members against  the privatization of the township's emergency dispatch service, but despite  opposition, a resolution  to use competitive bids was unanimously passed.

Both dispatchers and residents  spoke about the importance of having experienced and competent operators when a caller is faced with an emergency.

"I answer 9-1-1 calls for people...who are alone and in-labor for the first time," said Ellen Marie McGinley, dispatcher.  "People who have been assaulted and have no idea what to do next."

Other issues  raised during public comment were the potential for high turnover if an outside vendor is used and  the risk that would place on residents and first responders.

"We know the town; we know the people; we know where to send someone," said Susan Handelman, dispatcher and union vice president. "If they bring people in that aren't familiar, it will be a big problem."

Alternatives to the layoff of dispatch employees offered during public comment  were consolidation with neighboring municipalities and the review of the trash collection fee.

Township Manager Richard S. Krawczun told the council that consolidation of services had been spoken about at length and did not necessarily guarantee the dispatchers their jobs.

"All the employees [both civil and non-civil service] get the protection as if they were civil service employees including seniority," said Krawczun in regards to the process of consolidation. "So as much as our dispatchers may be proponents of consolidation,  it would clearly be that all of our dispatchers would not remain employees...due to the fact that we may have dispatchers that don't have as much seniority."

Residents questioned the council's decision to privatize emergency dispatch rather than ancillary township services.

Stephanie Baranowski, a teacher and resident, proposed privatizing services such as public works.

"I would rather have an under qualified person sweeping  the streets than answering the phone calls for emergency situations," said Baranowski. "You're really sacrificing quality for money."

Krawczun said the competitive bid allows the dispatchers to form a group and act as a bidder, or they can offer wage concessions and other contract considerations to equal the savings a competitive contract vendor could generate.

"We've discussed [submitting a bid]. I don't know at this point, if we can financially do that," said Handelman.

Krawczun had told her and a union rep that the dispatchers would  need to find $350,000 to save their  jobs, according to Handelman.

"The only way possible would be for us to work for free," said Handelman.

Krawczun said that any money saved from the proposed privatization will go directly to the tax payers and not the budget gap.

"I don't want anyone to leave here tonight thinking that [the council] was only looking for ways to save money against the cap," said Krawczun. "It's not just about staying under the cap base; it's about saving tax dollars, and this may be—it may not be a way to accomplish that."

Krawczun also talked about the projected cost saving measures for the 2013 budget in his Manager's Report. Proposals included the elimination of the recreation program, a decrease in the frequency  of brush collection and a new zoning permit fee. All proposals are considered pending except for the increase in various fees which has already been adopted.

Krawczun also introduced a metal/bulk collection fee which would generate $400,000 and offset the need for a trash collection fee. Currently metal and bulk pick up are included at no charge to township residents.

Krawczun said the system could incorporate a flat fee for all residents or a sticker program in which residents must buy labels prior to a metal or bulk pickup.

"The disadvantage to the sticker program is it could result in illegal dumping,"said Krawczun.

The council is currently reviewing the rates and policies for various metal/bulk collection agencies in the area.

The council also passed a resolution authorizing a professional services agreement for the revaluation of Quaker Bridge Mall.

 

Chief Wahoo September 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM
i know how save HALF of the $350,000.......Fire Dick !
grill master September 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Here we go again. Brilliant Dick, just brilliant! Cut the recreation programs..great idea. How about cutting the senior programs and leaving the rec. programs alone? Oh, that's right the seniors vote...and Mr. Pulitti doesn't want to lose the gig he has had for years. They wouldn't dare touch the senior programs. The brilliant ideas just keep coming. Lets charge every resident a fee for metal and bulk collection...even if they never use it! Another tax disguised as a fee...Dick Krookzun needs to go!
IMHO September 21, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Is there nothing we township citizens can do to remove these morons from office? At this rate there will be no programs in the township that benefits the citizens but the Council will keep eliminating the facilities while increasing the fees/charges at the same time. I vote for change! I vote for impeachment. Lawrence 4 Change of Council
T B September 21, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Do you know how many families would lose their jobs by getting rid public works, A Lot!!! You will be the same people Bitching when the private companies don't pick up debris, clean snow quick enough, and maintain parks. These guys work very hard and deserve to keep their jobs.
T B September 21, 2012 at 09:39 PM
They also do events like community day, private companies will not do all the extra work they do during the week and weekends. It saddens me how people are so ready to kick hard workers to the curb. I'm disgusted that people like my husband work here and you people only care when its convenient or work needs to be done in this township. I'm disgraced to say I live in this township anymore.

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