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.