Stockton, Atlantic County plan to team for countywide dispatch center on campus

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Stockton, County plan to team for countywide dispatch center on campus Stockton, County plan to team for countywide dispatch center on campus

GALLOWAY – Atlantic County and Richard Stockton College have reached a preliminary agreement for the construction and operation of a countywide central dispatch facility for police, fire and emergency medical services.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Atlantic County would build and operate the facility while the college would contribute $4.8 million toward construction and donate the land -- approximately 10 acres on its Galloway campus.

In return, Stockton would receive full inclusion in all dispatch services for the college in perpetuity.

“Stockton is pleased to provide land and funding to help enable a countywide dispatch service,” college President Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. said Tuesday, Dec. 10. “This is a long-term project that will benefit all the people of Atlantic County. At the same time, we will be providing an increased level of safety and service to Stockton's students, faculty and staff.”

Additional funding for construction of the facility would be provided from the county’s capital budget.

Construction costs are estimated at $17.2 million, depending upon the architectural design and plans.

“We are extremely pleased to be entering into a joint venture with Stockton College to bring this important project to fruition,” County Executive Dennis Levinson said. “I applaud President Saatkamp for his cooperation in recognizing the need to consolidate and share services.”

Levinson said it is becoming increasingly costly for each municipality to continue providing the services on its own, especially when it comes to upgrading equipment and technology.

“If we don’t start consolidating services and doing more with less, municipal taxes will keep going up,” Levinson said. “With a centralized dispatch center, every municipality will be able to lower its municipal tax. We estimate central dispatch will help our municipalities realize an overall savings of at least $1 million a year in technology, payroll and benefit costs.”

The countywide dispatch center would provide a single point of contact for all emergency situations in Atlantic County. There are currently 12 communication centers within the county that respond to emergency calls and dispatch police, fire and emergency personnel and equipment.

“Having multiple agencies and operations under one roof, working together and coordinating resources, will be a huge benefit as well as a significant cost savings,”  Levinson said.

The concept of countywide centralized dispatch was first proposed some 20 years ago when Levinson was freeholder chairman.

The county executive said that with the struggling economy and the governor’s 2 percent tax cap on local governments, the timing is right for central dispatch.

“The idea has been around for some time, however, cooperation among the municipalities and affected agencies was always a stumbling block,” he said. “But it has become increasingly apparent that we can no longer afford to hold on to the archaic notion of home rule,” he stated. “It is in the best interests of our municipalities to combine our resources.”

In addition to providing land and a financial contribution, Stockton College would relocate its police force to the new structure for building security.

The proposed agreement requires the approval of the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the participation of a majority of the county’s 23 municipalities. At this time, as many as 19 towns have indicated their interest in participating, according to a news release from the county.

Once an official contract is signed, the county would distribute a request for proposals for architectural design and specifications, followed by a bid for the construction of the building.

In the meantime, fire, police and emergency medical services would work toward establishing protocols and procedures for the new facility.

Stockton has been growing its community connections with a number of recent partnership projects including these:

Ribbon cutting Monday for Noyes Museum's Arts Garage in Atlantic City

Stockton inks agreement to work with Atlantic City Aquarium

Stockton seals the deal with NextGen park in Egg Harbor Township

Stockton dedicates $39.5 million Unified Science Center

Stockton honors Kramers with Hammonton namesake

Cape May, Stockton to sign two-year partnership for shows at Convention Hall

Woodbine Heritage Museum donated to Stockton

Cape May, Stockton to sign two-year partnership for shows at Convention Hall

Stockton plans to lead arts district genesis with Dante Hall takeover

Stockton board approves Seaview Resort purchase 

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