Republicans Cry Out for More Taxes

promoted by Rosi

No, this is not an Onion headline.   It’s true.

Medford is a town in Burlington County, and it’s as Republican as you can get.  Assemblyman Scott Rudder hails from there, and Chris Myers (John Adler’s opponent in 2008) is its Deputy Mayor.  Last year, Chris Christie carried the township with 60% of the vote in a three-way race.

So why at a public meeting this week were township residents clamoring for a tax increase?

find out below the fold

Medford is one of two towns in the county that does not utilize the Burlington County central emergency dispatch system for 911 calls.  At least until now.  The township council recently adopted an ordinance to eliminate the town’s local dispatch service and transfer to the county system on January 1.  While the savings estimates run from $300,000 to $600,000 per year, that was not the only reason for the switch.  The county system employs more modern technology, which improves how dispatchers can handle cellular calls.

Residents were upset.  Despite the financial and technical advantages, they felt that the local dispatchers knew the town better, and were willing to pay higher taxes if the revenue could be targeted for retaining the township’s services.  Several wanted this to be decided by ballot, but it’s too late for it to be part of the November election.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an attempt at shared services suffer from what I’d call the Reverse NIMBY effect.  Residents like home rule, close control, and familiarity with service providers.  And while I’d bet that Medford residents overwhelmingly support tax cuts, when it comes to a specific service, they sing a different tune.  But if the cost of government is to be contained, we will need more of these types of efficiencies which come with consolidation and sharing.

Governor Christie is squandering a golden opportunity.  Our state has a large deficit problem, and our governor, who claims to be unconcerned with his popularity, should use his bully pulpit to promote consolidation as a means to save money for the taxpayers.  Yes, during the transition from local to centralized services there will be a learning curve that would degrade performance for a short time.  But with proper planning, these inefficiencies can be temporary and ephemeral.   This is the true meaning of the governor’s “shared sacrifice” mantra.  Accept short term inefficiencies to reap the long term benefits of economies of scale.  This will benefit citizens of all political stripes.

Comments (7)

  1. Winston Smith

    I think you are elevating partisanship above policy and good government, and doing so to make a cheap political point.

    “Consolidation” is no panacea.

    While I oppose home rule on many issues (i.e. land use adn envrionment), home rule is appropriate for many things, primarily services that are primarily  local in nature.

    Emergency response certainly fits that criteria.

    Taxpayer willingness to pay for services and the ability to make the connection between service levels and taxes is a good thing.

    So is avoidance of knee jerk anti-tax sentiment.

    Medord residents should be applauded for this.

    But instead, becasue they are republicans, you criticize them and it seems only to make a cheap partisan point and shot a Chrisitie.

  2. southernbluedog

    I’m not from Burlington County, but this is what I do for a living.  Central communications works as long as the people running the agency put operations ahead of politics.  While I have no problem with hiring people who are politically connected, Burlington County Central needs to make sure they hire people who have half a brain.

    I don’t know which computer aided dispatch (CAD) system they use in Burlington, but I can almost guarantee you that every street name and business/common place will be in the County’s computer system by January 1.

    I work at a central 911 center.  One room answers 911 calls and determines whether it is a fire/ems/police emergency.  If it is a fire/ems emergency, they dispatch from that room.  If it is a police emergency, they transfer it to the police dispatch room and those dispatchers handle it from there.

    I work in the police room.  On any given night, I can dispatch for any of the towns in my county, but I mainly work with the largest, busiest police department.  If you want the honest truth, I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve driven through that town.

    You would think I would be at a disadvantage in my job as a dispatcher.  I am able to do a good job because I have been working with that town consistently, I have an updated/maintained CAD system, and I have a sufficient map.

    I do suggest that Burlington County dispatchers do ride-alongs with Medford police.  I also suggest they talk to the cops and get them to use the same terminology and communications standards that the county already uses.

    I know there’s more I should cover in this topic, but I just got done my brother’s house warming party.  If there’s any other questions I can answer, I’d be happy to do so.

  3. brendanod

    is probably the best example of a county wide dispatch center in the state.  It really should be used as an example for others to follow.


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