While a county study on the proposed consolidation of police departments in the county touts a $2.5 million savings for taxpayers over 10 years, Watchung residents at Monday's special Borough Council meeting were less impressed at how that broke down to their individual tax bills.
According to Watchung Borough Township Administrator Thomas Atkins, when Watchung CFO Bill Hance calculated the annual savings the average property owner in town would see, it came to a maximum of $94 per year by 2023.
That wasn't good enough to make the consolidation worthwhile, according to residents speaking at the meeting.
"I was for the concept when I first heard this idea, mainly because of the savings," resident Jay Heyman said. "But I get the feeling there won't be any savings.
"No savings and less police—it's a strange combination," he added.
Many of the residents also said the plan, which would place Watchung in a precinct with Warren, North Plainfield and Green Brook, would get the short-end of the police protection stick.
Several also complemented the police, noting the department's prompt responses to calls and the integration of police officers in town—Mountain Boulevard resident John Malchow said he knew Chief of Police Timothy Wenzel and Lt. Joseph Cina, who were present at the meeting, from their service as DARE officers when he was in grade school.
"We really should be proud of our luxuries and not be willing to give them up," Malchow said.
The Borough Council has until Aug. 1 to determine whether or not the borough will commit to participating in the consolidation plan. Before closing the hearing, Mayor Gerald Mobus said he expected the council would further discuss the consolidation plan and vote on it at an upcoming meeting.