CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE: Members of the Demarest Council’s Republican majority said they favor becoming Bergen’s first municipality to have the county police department take responsibility for public safety within its borders. A meeting with county officials is set for Thursday.
At tonight’s Demarest Mayor & Council meeting (CLIFFVIEW PILOT photo)
Demarest officials said they are $354,000 above the state-mandate 2% cap and need to find ways to close the gap.
A committee was created to begin hammering out the details.
The proposed arrangement includes Demarest Police Chief James Powderley III taking a supervisory role at the county level, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
It’s unclear, however, how many other Demarest officers would be employed by the county. Word early Monday was that eight would be absorbed. That still leaves at least four others, pending retirements.
Some borough officials have called consolidation a way to reduce duplication and close the budget shortfall. They also said it’s inevitable if municipalities want to keep a small-town feel without pricing their residents and business owners out.
A dozen or so residents expressed their displeasure with the idea during tonight’s council meeting. They were primarily concerned about response times.
Meanwhile, council members were clearly divided along party lines.
The four Republicans said they approve the move, as does Republican Mayor Raymond J. Cywinski.
The mayor predicted a savings of more than $140,000 a year.
A committee has been created to negotiate terms of the arrangement. The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday. A Memorandum of Understanding must be drawn up, under guidelines set by Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.
Tonight’s meeting comes hours before county Executive Kathleen Donovan plans to release the recommendations of a task force tomorrow on what should be done about the duplication of law enforcement services in a county that has a sheriff’s department, prosecutor’s office and county police department, in addition to dozens of municipal police agencies ( SEE: Bergen police consolidation report to be released tomorrow ).
County officials have said some towns are eager to cut costs by having the BCPD handle their public safety responsibilities.
CLIFFVIEW PILOT originally broke the news that Demarest is in that group ( SEE: Bergen County PD to patrol Demarest ). The borough originally looked into sharing services with Closter, but officials there determined they didn’t need such an arrangement.