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Mayoral Candidate Harvey Susswein Not Thrilled With New Glen Ridge Fire Agreement

Susswein comments on Montclair's new arrangement with Glen Ridge on fire protection

 

Harvey Susswein, who is running as the mayoral candidate on the "For Montclair" slate, issued the following statement Thursday morning on Montclair's new arrangement with Glen Ridge regarding fire protection.

"Not all of us are thrilled with the new Glen Ridge fire agreement.

"Our highly professional fire department costs about $13 million a year, including salaries, benefits, and the estimated part of debt service attributable to fire assets. If this cost were spread evenly over the 13,500 residences comprising Montclair and Glen Ridge, it comes to $960 per residence.

"Under the new agreement, for the next four years Glen Ridge pays us $625,000 a year or about $250 per Glen Ridge residence. Montclair taxpayers are left paying over $1,100 per residence for the same fire coverage. Yet we know that the frequency of fire incidents is roughly the same for both communities. Glen Ridge accounts for 15-20% of fire calls, generally in line with the relative size of the two communities, according to Fire Chief Allen’s budget presentation. 

"In addition, Montclair paid Glen Ridge a $200,000 signing bonus!

"Which side of this deal would you rather be on? Montclair and Bloomfield competed in a destructive bidding war over the Glen Ridge contract with the taxpayers of Glen Ridge the clear winner.

"Instead of competing with each other, what if Montclair, Bloomfield, West Orange, and others collaborated on fire coverage? Communities like Glen Ridge could buy in on a fair share basis. This is the type of arrangement our council should explore, rather than engaging in a 'fire sale' of valuable services."

Susswein's slate also includes Timothy Barr, William Hurlock, Walter Springer, and Jeffrey Jacobson.

tryintosurvive March 09, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Cary, thanks for the quote below: One Council person said "I am opposed to ANY move that will cost our workers their jobs, or one penny in salary, or one penny in benefits." That town council person certainly makes it clear that where their allegience lies, and it certainly is not with the taxpayers. I don't suppose we could find our who that was? This should be a pretty clear question that we should get all candidates opinions on if they are elected. If the majority of the town council holds this opinion, then there is no hope for taxes ever being curtailed, let alone going down.
Martin Schwartz March 10, 2012 at 03:24 PM
"I am opposed to ANY move that will cost our workers their jobs, or one penny in salary, or one penny in benefits." Can you clarify who specifically said this?
working stiff March 10, 2012 at 04:37 PM
You know, people whose jobs depend on taxpayer money are ALSO taxpayers. A big part of this state's continued high unemployment comes from the drastic cuts in public sector jobs during Christie's administration. You're not making a charitable donation when you pay well for services-- you're paying for good services! I like getting my trash picked up twice a week, and I like the high-quality schools my children attend in Montclair. I knew I was going to pay high taxes when I moved here. And compassion, last I checked, is a virtue. I'm proud to live in a town whose representatives decline to put working people out of work. Paying well for a job well done isn't charity-- it's good policy.
Craig March 12, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Working stiff's comments are very indicative of the problem we have with the public sector right now. We all want good services and could get that from things like privatization of the sanitation pick up; making residents bring bulk waste to the town dump instead of sanitation coming to you to get it; and regionalization of the fire depts of Mtc, Blmfield, GR, Verona and maybe other local communities under one centralized administration which then has in place local firehouses in the communities and perhaps a combo-professional and volunteer department. We could regionalize police departments under a central admin to save money. You could even use some of the savings to hire more patrolmen/women instead of dept heads. Anyhow this is all simple in theory. In reality when the 2008 recession began to take hold there was a meeting when Hartnett was the town manager and the purpose was to discuss trimming depts given the tremendous tax burden we face and lousy economic outlook ahead. What happened? The chamber was packed with town employees fearful of losing their jobs disrupting the meeting. The town then backed down and cut less than they should have. To make the town liveable for the majority of residents we need to make hard choices and that includes cutting the workforce and consolidating services with other towns in the same boat. Unfortunately IMO we live in "Working Stiff's" town. But only until the very wealthy will be able to afford to stay.
tryintosurvive March 12, 2012 at 08:27 PM
"I am opposed to ANY move that will cost our workers their jobs, or one penny in salary, or one penny in benefits." If I had to guess it would have probably been someone who had been a town employee for over 20 years. I would surmise that he may have made this type of decision and agreement behind the scenes, because I do not recall it being said in a public forum. Then with a mayor and deputy mayor who knew nothing about finance and were more concerned about bike lanes, this one town council person effectively derailed any real savings that could happen. It did not cost any town employee a penny, but it just cost each taxpayer thousands of dollars.

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