Levdansky responds to study report

  Public officials are elected to serve and protect the public interest. When they take action, it is news. The media reports on those actions to inform the public. But it is not the role of the media to make the news — even on a slow news day! Contrary to The Daily News’ March 2 editorial, there is no plot to keep the public sheltered from local officials’ discussions about a study to look at regionalizing local police services. There is no study. There is a collection of data from four municipalities that contains no recommendations. The next step in the process would be a study. Last year the municipalities involved agreed to take the first step — collecting the data. The state Department of Community and Economic Development recently completed that step. According to the DCED legal counsel, this “work product” is not a pubic document and is very preliminary in nature. Unless the municipalities decide to proceed with a full study on creating a regional police force, nothing further will occur. With the data in hand, local officials are better able to decide whether to proceed with the state-funded study. Even if a study is authorized, no municipality is under any obligation to participate in a regional police force. Many local governments struggle to provide services. Consolidation, shared services and cooperation are avenues worth pursuing to provide quality local services at the lowest possible cost. to taxpayers. I have been actively involved in regionalizing local sewage systems and was the leading House advocate of a new law that will save $237 million by consolidating from 560 to 69 the number of local income



tax collection districts. Local police departments are often the largest component in a municipal budget. If there is a way to provide that police protection in a more cost-effective manner, it is worth exploring. For the record, I did not announce the meeting and then close it to the public and media. I invited local municipal officials to meet and review the data contained in the “work product” prepared by the DCED consultant. It was not a public meeting; there was no public announcement. There were no decisions being made at the meeting. I often call meetings and invite local officials to discuss issues that affect them. Our world is changing and we must change with it. Cooperation is necessary to resolve problems and keep pace with change. It is far easier to turn a blind eye and protect the status quo through inertia, pointing fingers and making outlandish charges against the forces of change. Whoever alerted the reporter to the meeting obviously has her or his own agenda. It seems the reporter played right into that agenda. Unless communities can put turf battles aside and some local officials can put their own political agendas on the back burner and do the right thing for their residents, I fear that inertia will win out over constructive change that could save tax dollars and provide a higher level of service to residents. If anyone is interested in discussing the recent meeting and “work product,” please contact my office and schedule a time to meet with me. State Rep. David K. Levdansky Chairman, House Finance Committee Forward Township

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