At the September 25, 2017 township meeting, the committee approved Ordinance 2017-9, which creates a department of public safety to manage emergency services. The ordinance also creates a part-time, public safety director position.
It remains to be seen when the committee will hire the new public safety director and who it will be. It’s taken years of discussion and multiple committee reports on emergency services to reach this point. Committeewoman Kim Brown was the only elected official to vote against the public safety director ordinance; Mayor Lee and Committeemen Barton and Yates voted for it; Committeeman Rick Franzen was absent.
It also remains to be seen if the committee intends to sign a contract with the Tabernacle Rescue Squad as it did with the Tabernacle Fire Company #1. When the TFC#1 contract was discussed, many questions were raised.
A key issue is whether the township will charge the TRS rent for its use of the Emergency Services Building (ESB). Unlike the TFC#1, the TRS generates substantial revenues (at least $250,000 annually from insurance billing). These go exclusively to the squad. Yet taxpayers pay roughly $200,000 annually on the ESB’s four-million dollar bond and provide additional cash subsidies.
Before the vote was taken on the public safety ordinance, Committeewoman Kim Brown heatedly brought up a report, “Options and Outsourcing of Tabernacle Rescue Services,” written by Township Attorney Peter Lange. The report was in the committee’s meeting packet.
Committeewoman Brown seemed to think that this report meant that the committee intended to replace the TRS. For six minutes, she interrogated Mr. Lange to tell her when and who directed him to write the report. This was a moment of great irony because Committeewoman Brown has been a serial backroom dealer. Indeed at the prior meeting, Ms. Brown said that she and others had met with the TRS in private and decided not to charge rent for the use of the ESB in exchange for the old squad building on Hawkin Road.
In response to Committeewoman Brown’s questions, Mr. Lange said that it was a collective decision to look at various options. He also pointed out that many of the options —particularly the option for a Request for Proposals, which really steamed Ms. Brown — had already been discussed at public meetings. Finally he explained that it was prudent to explore options because TRS Captain Steven Cramer told him that the squad was going to quit. Captain Cramer disputed this.
The discussion of the ordinance is so rich that TTJ readers should take the time to watch the video.
The next township meeting will be held October 23, 2017, at town hall at 7:30 PM.