Bridgewater officials are still unsure if the proposed countywide police merger makes sense for the township.
Mayor Daniel J. Hayes Jr. had an initial review conducted by an internal working group. The mayor’s report, read by Township Administrator James Naples at Monday’s Township Council meeting, indicated the working group was charged with evaluating if the Prosecutor's Task Force's proposal to consolidate Somerset County’s 19 police departments made sense for Bridgewater.
Among the considerations were if the plan made financial and operational sense in light of potential savings per hour and potential impact on service as well as the validity of key assumptions.
While the feasibility study released in April showed that a consolidated police department could save taxpayers $44 million over the next 10 years, the township’s review group determined that “published savings are insignificant to justify the risks to the community.”
The group estimated the savings to Bridgewater households would be an average of $17 per year over 10 years.
The mayor’s report also indicated that the potential savings seemed “insignificant to justify the changes to the municipal facility” the proposal would entail. It pointed out the need for more complete quantitative analysis.
In his report, the mayor said the township would like greater detail on some of the issues as well as sufficient time to evaluate the information.
Naples said the county has asked municipalities to reply by Aug. 1. Thus far, only Peapack-Gladstone and Bedminster have decided not to participate. There has, however, been opposition voiced by Watchung residents, the Green Brook PBA and Bernards Township Committeeman John Carpenter. On the other side, Bound Brook Mayor Carey Pilatois has said there is support for the plan.
Naples told the council that all 19 municipalities had to concur in order for the benefits to be achieved. It is possible that the proposal may also spur discussions among neighboring municipalities to share services, he noted.