Dispatch agreement reached

Staff Writer

By vincent todaro

SPOTSWOOD — The borough will continue to provide emergency dispatch services for Helmetta, but it will not get the yearly price increases officials were seeking.

The Spotswood Borough Council rescinded an initial resolution that sought to increase the amount Helmetta would pay in 2002 by more than $3,000. At its Jan. 7 meeting, the council also passed a new resolution that reflected the increases Helmetta has agreed to.

Spotswood Business Administrator Wayne Hamilton said the two municipalities have reached a new three-year agreement that will include modest yearly increases. In 2002, Helmetta will pay $11,580; in 2003, $14,500; and in 2004, it goes up to $17,000.

Helmetta paid $11,280 in 2001.

The original resolution called for Helmetta to pay $15,000 in 2002, $20,000 in 2003 and $25,000 in 2004.

Hamilton said Helmetta officials balked at the original increases, so Spotswood decided to lower them in order to maintain the relationship.

"We’ve been doing dispatch for Helmetta for as long as I can remember, certainly the last 25 years, if not more," he said. "We had put together some pricing, did our resolution, but Helmetta balked at the increase in pricing. We put our heads together to come up with a smaller increase, renegotiated it and took it back to our governing body."

"We basically went back to the drawing board," he said. "They expressed reservations at renewing the agreement, so we adjusted our pricing."

Spotswood receives all police calls for Helmetta, then dispatches them to the Helmetta Police Department.

"We would radio them, and they would acknowledge transmission and be dispatched to the address," he said.

The dispatches cover the entire realm of police calls, in addition to 911 calls, he said.

Spotswood also handles all fire calls, even putting out sirens and tones for Helmetta, he said.

Spotswood police often also provide backup assistance to Helmetta police. Most calls that come in to the dispatchers are in Spotswood, rather than Helmetta, officials said.

Hamilton said it is difficult to determine if the borough actually makes a profit by providing the service.

"It’s kind of a win-win," he said. "Spotswood would still have to have service for our department. We look at it to help offset costs."

If Spotswood did not provide the service, Helmetta would have to either work with another nearby municipality or purchase its own equipment and hire dispatchers, he said.

"It’s a classic case where an interlocal service agreement becomes a win-win for both municipalities," he said.