West Milford gets $2.9M federal grant for new police, fire radio system

Oct 11, 2023

Read more here: West Milford gets $2.9M federal grant for new police, fire radio system

By David Zimmer

WEST MILFORD — A $2.9 million windfall hit town this week, as officials incorporated a federal grant earmarked for new police radios into the municipal budget.

In a hilly, sprawling town where cell service is notoriously spotty, officials said the grant is vital to ensuring quick and effective emergency service response. The current radio communications system is aging and occasionally faulty, according to local officials, who said the project is one of extreme importance.

The project involves replacing radios and antennas used by local police, firefighters, first aid and emergency management officials while installing other new infrastructure to keep the town’s first responders connected with one another and central dispatch, records show. The new communications system will also be linked to the New Jersey State Police and allow for easier communication with neighboring municipalities.

The funding was announced in January, as part of the federal Community Project Funding grant program. The project was one of 15 submitted by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-Wyckoff, for funding through the 2022 program. Gottheimer, who is a member of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, said he backed the West Milford project because of its ability to make the community safer and save taxpayers money.

“What’s great about these investments in our community is that it helps protect us and it helps our communities save real local and property tax dollars, because it’s items that they need but don’t have to pay for out of their local budgets, or bond for,” he said.

The grant is equal to about 13% of the municipal tax expected to be collected from taxpayers for the entirety of 2023. The funding comes on top of $37.3 million in revenue that council members budgeted for 2023 in the spring, which could bring the town’s total revenues beyond $40 million for the first time.

Other funding obtained through the federal Community Project Funding grant program for 2022 is due to help several Sussex County communities upgrade their 911 dispatch equipment to provide better service, records show.

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