Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hillsdale Debates Dispatch Center Ballot Question

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hillsdale Debates Dispatch Center Ballot Question

Article excerpt

HILLSDALE -- How to phrase a non-binding ballot question regarding the police dispatch center is being debated by the mayor and council.

In May, a petition was circulated to Hillsdale residents to have a question appear on the ballot for the November general election, evaluating the public's opinion of either keeping the police dispatch center in-house or outsourcing it to a regional call center.

The future of Hillsdale's police dispatch center has been the center of debate over the past few months. The governing body has been leaning toward making a deal with Bergen County to move the operation to a regional dispatch center. The PBA, ambulance corps, Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management have thrown their support behind Police Chief Chip Stalter's plan to keep the operation in-house, using civilian dispatchers.

The petition was signed by more than 827 town residents, well over the requisite 10 percent of registered voters, or approximately 700 people. The question posed on the petition was: "As a resident and registered voter in the borough of Hillsdale, do you support keeping the Hillsdale police headquarters open to the public and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a civilian dispatcher and/or a police officer?"

Next meeting

Borough Clerk Susan Witkowski provided the mayor and council with two options: keep the question's wording as is or modify it. However, despite heated debate on the matter at last week's council meeting, no final decision was made and the issue was tabled until the July meeting.

Some council members said the question on the petition should be used.

"The people have spoken," council member Marie Hanlon said.

Others, including Mayor Max Arnowitz, were in favor of rewording the question.

Arnowitz, already concerned with the increased use of surplus funds in the 2012 municipal budget and the 2.56 percent increase in taxes, said he was worried that keeping the dispatch center in police headquarters could bring more financial problems for the borough. …

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