Tag Archive: consolidation

Gina Genovese

It was fitting that we chose Princeton as the site for an interview with independent gubernatorial candidate Gina Genovese. After all, the consolidation of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough in 2013 is a success story that is unfortunately all too…
Read more

Suburban Sprawl: Our defining feature and biggest challenge

Sprawl. Burbs. Little municipalities by the hundreds. They define New Jersey. Does they have to, going forward? Promoted by Rosi.

Everyone who’s ever driven through New Jersey has seen it. Town after town, subdivision after subdivision of vinyl-sided, single-family housing. It is one of the hallmark features of the Garden State along with our shore towns and Bruce Springsteen. Having grown up in the 20th century with the popularity of the automobile, it provided shelter for a booming post-World War II population and the millions of children born to it. But the American dream our suburbs helped to fulfill have become something of a nightmare. And as the problems that plague these towns get worse, they threaten to undermine the viability of the entire state.

The weather, Alka Seltzer and property taxes

New Jersey property tax is somewhat like the weather. Everybody talks about it but nobody does much about it. The weather admittedly is hard to change, but there are policies that could reduce property tax in New Jersey. Gov. Christie and the legislature created a theoretical 2% cap and made other improvements around the fringes. However, as our national economy and jobs improve, inflation will begin to creep upward placing further strain on local governments.

What Gov. Christie gives with one hand he also takes back with the other. Throughout his tenure he has done little to provide relief. His new budget is no exception, as can be seen in the two largest components of property tax: school and municipal taxes.

Blue Jersey Focus – José Delgado

Camden is a city in trouble and many politicians from Governor Christie to Mayor Redd to Senator Norcross and Assemblymen Wilson and Fuentes are getting a lot of press coverage. No doubt, there are a lot of bad people who are taking advantage of the city’s inbred poverty and the Governor’s cutbacks in public safety and education to the detriment of the law-abiding and struggling residents of that city. But the silver lining is that there are also residents who are quietly working below the radar to incrementally improve the situation there.

One such citizen is José Delgado, a retired investigator for the public defender and former long-time member of the Camden Board of Education. I spoke with Delgado this afternoon about crime, education, and the hopes for Camden’s future.



Courage to Connect NJ

Here’s a heads-up, this event is tomorrow. – promoted by Rosi

I recently got an email from a woman in my community, whom I admire greatly.  She said:

“I’ve lived here forty-one years, and I am just recently waking up to the fact that what ails New Jersey is this system of home rule by the 560+ municipalities.   Perhaps my eyes were blinded by the fact that at that time New Jersey was far ahead of other states in education for the handicapped, which was my primary reason for relocating.  Over the years New Jersey didn’t keep up, and when I finally began to wonder why I came to realize the great disadvantage the state has because of its overabundance of municipalities.”

On Wednesday June 8 in Rutherford Boro Hall–7 pm--Courage to Connect NJ Bergen County and the Rutherford Community/Quality of Life Committee are hosting Gina Genovese–Founder and Executive Director of Courage to Connect NJ to talk about how municipal consolidation will save our state. www.couragetoconnectnj.org

Come find out how consolidation can make NJ more efficient, more affordable, and increase quality of life.

Nothing is Ever a Total Loss. It Can Always Be Used As A Bad Example

promoted by Rosi

There’s a lot of talk about consolidation and shared services as a way to address New Jersey’s budget crisis.  Some baby steps have been taken in areas such as public safety, county-wide purchasing, and library services.

While consolidation and sharing of services is a noble goal in the abstract, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.  Case in point:  the Woodlynne Police Department.

Woodlynne is a tiny one-quarter square mile borough tucked between Camden and Collingswood.  Four years ago, in an effort to save money, the borough disbanded its police force, sold off its squad cars and other assets, and outsourced police protection to Collingswood.  Like almost all public service agencies, the Collingswood Police Department had severe fiscal challenges, and in 2009 started to cut back on police patrols in the Woodlynne borough.  This soured the relationship between the two municipalities, and eventually they agreed on an amicable divorce – Woodlynne would resurrect its independent police department.

The borough of 3,000 residents hired about a dozen officers who were laid off from their police jobs in surrounding municipalities, and hired a former Camden police chief as their Director of Public Safety at a $60,000 annual salary.  The new Woodlynne Police Department started operation this past Sunday.  Much of the equipment such as bulletproof vests, guns, and forensic devices was recycled or donated from other departments or the state, although the borough did invest in two brand new squad cars.

I’m not qualified to comment on whether this insourcing initiative is good or bad for the citizens of Woodlynne.  It’s possible that the lure of home rule, clash of personalities, or insufficient service from Collingswood all contributed to this reversal.  What’s important here, though, for the rest of the state is to capitalize on Woodlynne’s and Collingswood’s experiences and apply those lessons learned to future cost-cutting efforts.  The New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety should interview the principal parties and document what worked, and what didn’t.  The Department should establish a repository of lessons learned from this and similar efforts – those that succeed as well as those that fail.  And those lessons need to be part of the planning process for future consolidation efforts and sharing of services.  By systematically exploiting mistakes of the past, we have an improved chance of ensuring a better future.

Sourced From My Blog: Idea #11: 21 Counties, 22 Police Departments

New Jersey has 566 municipalities and 489 of those municipalities maintain their own police force. This includes many municipalities that have only a few thousand people and are extremely small and condensed, this includes many municipalities which are surrounded almost entirely or entirely by another municipality.

In Indiana, it would be extremely uncommon for a town of less than 5000 people to retain their own police force, instead contracting policing services to the sheriff’s office. Outside of the northeast, sheriff’s offices provide policing services to rural areas, whereas in New Jersey, sheriff’s main duties include operation of jails, security for the courts, and delivering process.

The other municipalities receive their policing from the NJSP, at a cost of $80 million per year.

Proposal:

-All municipal police forces should be dissolved and all police personnel should be rolled into the county sheriff’s office

-The county sheriff’s office, in turn, shall provide police services for all residents within their county

-Cut the $80 million it takes for the state to police these rural areas, as all areas of New Jersey shall receive policing from their respect county sheriffs

-Require a statewide hiring freeze for police/sheriffs officers for 5 years, and close down all police academies run by the state for 3 years.

-The new consolidated county police/sheriff offices should utilize old municipal police stations as precincts, and shut down unnecessary stations

-All public safety should be funded through a countywide ad valorum property tax

Will it work?

Well, in many counties in Maryland, there is only one countywide police force and one sheriffs office; this takes it to the logical conclusion.  

The Ledger Live looks at the failed Sussex/Wantage merger

The latest merger to stop before it gets started is the one between the towns of Sussex and Wantag. When put to the voters, it failed locally by a 3-1 margin:

“If it wasn’t going to happen here, I wonder if it’s going to happen anywhere,” said Sal Lagattuta, one of the proponents.

It seemed like a natural candidate for a merger, but the people said they wanted to keep their identity, their name and that they didn’t mind paying more to do it. Brian Donohue had this video over at the Ledger Live:

We wrote last week about how the Medford Lakes council didn’t even put it to their voters before squashing a proposed merger to share police services, not even merge the whole town. This will be a thorny issue for the new Governor to navigate, but one that if he’s being real about changing the way we do business needs to receive some serious consideration. Brian Donohue asked this:

Will Christie have to push even harder to overcome New Jerseyans’ love for home rule?

The answer is yes he will have to push even harder, but the follow up question is will he actually do the pushing necessary?

Corzine signs bill to scrap school districts without schools

It still amazes me that we need a bill to tell us we shouldn’t have school districts without actual schools, but the Governor made things official yesterday:

Gov. Jon Corzine Tuesday signed into law a bill that will clear the way to merge with larger districts 26 small school districts that do not operate schools.

The districts include tiny towns like Teterboro, Tavistock, Hi-Nella and Rocky Hill. Their school boards usually meet just once a year to approve sending a tuition check to a neighboring district.

The Governor called it a positive first step toward school district consolidation. The new law is meant to clarify a 2007 law that got tangled up in taxes. Small districts say they’re not the problem and while there may be larger issues, that doesn’t mean they should continue to exist.  Jay put up a diary with some video on the press conference:

No schools will be closed as they merge the districts. I’ll put the video the campaign put out below the fold.