As reported by NJ.com, the $21.2 million budget East Windsor is proposing for 2015 does not include consolidated police services with Hightstown, Mayor Janic Mironov said. “The budget we have prepared does not in any manner reflect any possible police services agreement with Hightstown,” she said.
Closed-door discussions between the towns are ongoing as officials consider merging police forces under a shared services agreement. And that option is still on the table as officials weigh how the change would affect each municipality. “If and when the two municipalities were to reach any agreement with respect to East Windsor providing police services to Hightstown, we would review the budget needs at that time, as well as a series of other areas that would need to be reviewed in taking on that responsibility,” Mironov said. Those include records maintenance, funding, staffing, space and equipment needs.
The possible shift in policing comes as Hightstown faces two lawsuits from officers, the resignation in November of its police director, and ongoing contract negotiations with the police union. “We will move forward with this if there is a big advantage to the taxpayers of Hightstown,” Hightstown Mayor Larry Quattrone said. “That’s only fair. I am very serious about making sure it’s done right.”
East Windsor’s 2015 budget proposal maintains a tax rate of 43.1 cents per $100 of assessed property value for the third year in a row. About $7.5 millon is budgeted for police services, including salaries and benefits, Mironov said. Hightstown spends about $2.2 million on police.
If the town’s agree to the deal, a transition period would be part of the plan, Mironov said. “It’s obviously not the type of arrangement that could be implemented overnight,” she said. Hightstown has two budget workshops scheduled at the end of the month and will propose a budget following those meetings.