Shared Services

 Today’s catchword ’shared services’ is merely a new name given to long- standing governmental agreements formerly called regional or intergovernmental service. Byram Township has benefitted from ’shared services’ for decades and has been steadily involved since the renewed effort this decade under state permissive and mandatory laws and regulations.

Lakeland Emergency Squad

The all-volunteer Lakeland Emergency Squad (LES) was established in 1939 by a group of young men who wanted to do underwater recovery in Cranberry Lake and the surrounding areas. They actually built their own diving apparatus. World War II sent many of them to far corners of the world and it wasn’t until after WWII that they returned and took up heavy rescue. In 1949, they began an ambulance service that evolved into LES today.

LES once served not only the presently served towns (Andover Borough and Township and Byram) but also Allamuchy and Green Townships. The squad receives funding from all three towns and conducts an annual fund drive and other fund-raising programs.

In 2008, LES under Rescue Sergeant Scott Danielson, wrote an Assistance To Firefighters Grant for about $140,000 for an ambulance. The grant has been awarded to LES. Byram and Andover Township are in the process of funding another ambulance in order to provide the squad with two identical units. The squad has been getting two identical units about every six to eight years. It helps to have ‘twin’ units especially when you are in the heat of an emergency and need to locate a particular piece of equipment.

Unfortunately, this year the AFG program does not permit another application from LES.

9-1-1/Emergency Communications Services

Another long term ’shared service’ participated in by Byram Township has been in emergency dispatch services. In 1971 under the State Law Enforcement Planning Grant program, Chief Howard Karl of Hopatcong and Chief Danielson collaborated to get a grant to set up a regional communications center in Hopatcong. The center was set up under an interlocal agreement and included Hopatcong, Byram, Stanhope, Netcong and Mt. Arlington with contract services also rendered to Andover Borough, Andover Township, Green Township and Allamuchy Township. The system was known as the Sussex-Morris Regional Police Communications Network. (Chief Danielson managed the system for nearly a decade.)

As things evolved, growth caused several of the towns to withdraw from the network and go to Morris County’s countywide center. Hopatcong took over operations on a contract basis.

When 9-1-1 was first introduced in New Jersey in the late ’80’s, an effort was undertaken to open one center for all of Sussex County - 24 municipalities. Twenty-one of the twenty-four chose to have a single center but the county would not do so without 100% participation. Six centers or PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) were set up and remain in operation today.

In about 2000, the state began to move toward ‘next generation’ or NG 9-1-1. (Go to the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office link and click on “OEM” for all of the studies.) Under the Sussex County Division of Emergency Management and 9-1-1 Coordination, Sussex County has moved toward meeting the challenges of NG 9-1-1. Grants have been awarded by the NJ Office of Emergency Telecommuncations to study the consolidation of the six PSAPs into one or two. Implementation is now underway with a consultant grant of $220,000 and an implementation grant to Sparta of about $199,000.

The state has directed that when NG 9-1-1 comes into full operation in about 2011, they will only route the 9-1-1 calls to 41 PSAPs statewide - 21 counties, 15 cities over 65,000 population and 5 regions with over the 65,000 population.  Township Manager Joseph Sabatini and Mayor Danielson (wearing two hats) have been intensely networking with surrounding municipalities to consolidate the Hopatcong PSAP with another. The technology today, and even moreso in NG 9-1-1, is such that it is no longer necessary to be close to the population served  and there will be an enhanced level of service as well as some economies to scale when consolidation is realized.

Township Manager Joseph Sabatini has been instrumental in making sure that Byram Township’s best interests are well protected. He has also reached agreements with and executed shared services agreements with the Byram and LVR school boards and is meeting with Mayor Danielson and local mayors and administrators/managers to pursue yet other ’shared services’.      

More to follow.