Seaside Heights has signed an agreement to switch its emergency communications from an in-house team to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department.
The borough council approved an agreement with the county Wednesday, which will see the county take over police and emergency medical calls and dispatch. The county already dispatches fire calls for Seaside Heights. Seaside Park also utilizes county dispatch while Lavallette maintains an in-house operation.
The good news, Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said, is that the move will save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and no employees will have to lose work. The borough worked to ensure that all employees found new positions before the change was approved.
“It’s a win-win,” he said, the opposite result of other towns that have faced tough opposition from labor unions and employees over switching the county dispatch.
“We’ve pretty much placed all of our dispatchers in new jobs,” he said. “One of them will be working with the county, some of them are working for different towns and two of them we’ve moved.”
One dispatcher will move to the court system and one will replace a vacancy elsewhere. Another was already planning to retire.
“It really all worked out,” said Vaz.
Switching to county dispatch was suggested by the state, which is working with Seaside Heights to reduce expenses. The borough has received aid from the state in recent years to bridge the gap between the cost of basic services and the lack of revenue that is still present due to the reduction in the tax base following Superstorm Sandy.
“If you include the health benefits, it cost us about a half-million” per year, Vaz said.
The agreement with the county is expected to cost about $170,000, a $330,000 annual savings.
The county will also partner with Seaside Heights on technology upgrades that are going to be required by the federal government in the coming years.