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"The pressure for consolidation begins when residents begin to recognize a problem with the current municipal structure, either because of rising taxes, lowering quality of services, or growing environmental problems."

Home Rule

Courage to Connect NJ

Courage to Connect NJ Highlighted in The New York Times

TETERBORO, N.J. — At 1.1 square miles, this town is smaller than Central Park — smaller even than Teterboro Airport, which spills past its borders. It has no schools, no police or fire department, far more aircraft than residents, and a bone to pick with the Census Bureau.

The bureau estimates Teterboro is home to 17 people, making it the smallest municipality in New Jersey. But locals say the true population is at least 50, maybe 60.

Either way, many people wonder why it is a town at all, and a bill before the State Legislature would abolish Teterboro and split the pieces among its neighbors. That bill has stalled, but the idea is not likely to go away. And many other places across the state are ripe for the same treatment.

New Jersey has long viewed its thicket of local governments, many tiny — including 566 incorporated municipalities and 591 school districts — as an instrument of cherished local control.

But a growing number of government officials and residents are starting to see these hyperlocal entities as a source of duplication and waste. With voters rebelling against high taxes, and towns and school districts struggling to absorb rising costs and falling state aid, there is a drumbeat for consolidation.

…..

But Gina Genovese, a former mayor of Long Hill (population 8,600), said that if you needed to share all sorts of services, “maybe you shouldn’t have a town.”

“We shared a fire inspector, a health officer, a construction officer and police communications, and we had a part-time C.F.O.,” said Ms. Genovese, who founded Courage to Connect NJ to promote consolidation. “We shared services with 14 other towns, and it just took a fractured structure and fractured it even more.”

Ms. Genovese’s group plans to release a guide in January for towns interested in consolidating under the 2007 New Jersey law.


This article originally ran in The New York Times. To download a full PDF, click here

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SUNDAY CONVERSATION: Gina Genovese, head of Courage to Connect N.J.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another one of our “Sunday Conversations,” a question and answer interview with a prominent Morris County person. This week, we feature Gina Genovese, the former mayor of Long Hill Township, who is the executive director of a non-profit group, Courage to Connect N.J., which is trying to reduce the cost of local government in New Jersey by merging municipalities. Genovese, 51, is a lifelong resident of New Jersey and a former professional tennis player.

Q: You have been a mayor and also a candidate for the state Senate in 2007, how did you move on from those activities to what you are doing now?

A: As a local elected official, after about two years, I realized the burden on 3,100 households in Long Hill. They had to pay for a police department a DPW, etc. and I just started to see that Long Hill Township should perhaps not exist by itself, that it would be a better town if we had more economies of scale to capture and if that happened, it would be a way to address the local property tax issue in New Jersey. That’s not to say our police department and DPW were not great; we had 3,100 people paying for it. I started to ask a lot of questions, a lot of questions about municipal aid. I started to inquire about the size of towns and I started to look into it. I discovered that shared services is perhaps a step, but that really wasn’t going to remedy the situation that New Jersey was facing. I said this is not the way to go; the way to go is to strengthen our local government.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Record. To download a full PDF, click here

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New Providence forum to discuss municipal mergers

NEW PROVIDENCE — The public is invited to learn about the potential benefits of municipal consolidation for the borough and neighboring municipalities at a public forum on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m.

The event will be held at the New Providence Library, 377 Elkwood Ave. The free program will feature Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey, who will explain the growing efforts statewide to connect municipalities under a single administration. A question-and-answer session will follow.

The event will be hosted by former Borough Councilman Bob Robinson, and a local orthodontist with a practice on Springfield Avenue. Robinson said Courage to Connect New Jersey’s message that government could be more streamlined, more efficient and less costly resonates with residents who are tired of paying high property taxes.

Genovese, who is also the owner of Gina’s Tennis World in Berkeley Heights and former mayor of Long Hill Township, said municipalities across New Jersey are starting to seriously consider consolidation as an option for reducing property taxes.

This article originally appeared in the Independent Press. Click here to download a full PDF

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Town merger advocate brings her message to Northern Valley

NORTHVALE — A supporter for the consolidation of municipalities brought her message to Northvale residents on Oct. 12.

Gina Genovese and Wendy McCahill, founders of Courage to Connect NJ a non-profit promoting consolidation of municipalities, were invited to speak to area residents by Northvale Councilman Andrew Gullestad after he heard a presentation from the group earlier in the year.

The purpose of the presentation was to inform residents of the benefits of consolidating towns in order to bring property taxes under control.

“We’re all here to figure out how to make things better,” Gullestad said, welcoming those who attended the presentation.

Consolidating towns would consist of bringing several smaller towns into one, with one mayor and council, and one set of administration and services, watching over the town to avoid duplicating responsibilities and costs.

“We’re all in this together,” said Genovese, a former mayor of Long Hill in Morris County.

Genovese said she was in Northvale because she’s seen budgets struggling throughout the state, with taxpayers having to pick up the tab.

“And we’re struggling too,” she said, with many leaving the state in response.

This article originally appeared in the Northern Valley Suburbanite . Click here to download a full PDF of the article.

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Public Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 19, to discuss consolidation of Scotch Plains and Fanwood

SCOTCH PLAINS – Should Scotch Plains and Fanwood merge?

That is the question that will be discussed at a public forum on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Scotch Hills Country Club, 820 Jerusalem Road, in Scotch Plains.

The free event will begin at 8 p.m. and will feature Gina Genovese, Executive Director of Courage to Connect New Jersey, who will explain the growing efforts statewide to connect municipalities and outline the process that interested towns can follow. A question-and-answer session will follow.

The event will be hosted by Fred Lange, a Scotch Plains resident who heard Genovese speak in Plainfield on June 27 and asked her to make her presentation in his town, where shared services is already a hot topic. The shared services discussion between the two towns is a separate issue, although Genovese supports that discussion. This forum will focus on the potential benefits of merging both towns under one municipal government, with the goal of saving taxpayers money.

This article originally appeared in the Suburban News. To download a full PDF of the article, click here

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Forum on reducing property taxes to be held in Northvale

NORTHVALE — Courage to Connect NJ, a non-profit that promotes consolidation to reduce the state’s skyrocketing property taxes, will hold a free forum at Borough Hall tonight to discuss consolidating municipal services in the Northern Valley area.

Gina Genovese, the group’s executive director and a former mayor of Long Hill in Morris County, will talk to residents about how the duplication of services in the state’s 566 municipalities is contributing to the state’s fiscal crisis.

A forum on reducing property taxes willl be tonight from 7:30 to 9 at Northvale Borough Hall, 116 Paris Ave. A similar meeting in Englewood is scheduled for Oct. 20.

“There is so much duplication of municipal services from one end of the state to the other,” Genovese said in a press release promoting the event. “New Jersey’s municipal framework must ultimately be reduced to 100 to 150 towns, or our state will become unaffordable for most of us to live here.”

Genovese will address how municipalities can maintain their identities, while being part of a larger entity that shares departments such as police, public works and tax functions.

This article originally appeared in The Record. Click here to download a full PDF of the article

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Merchantville residents consider study of merger

MERCHANTVILLE — An advocate of municipal mergers spoke here Wednesday night, but not everyone in the audience embraced her views.

Gina Genovese, founder of Courage to Connect NJ, was brought in by members of a local group that put together a petition in July urging a study of a possible merger between Merchantville and Cherry Hill.

“It’s a message that we’re presenting all around the state, that this is a problem for New Jersey,” Genovese told her listeners at First Presbyterian Church.

She said duplicated efforts among multiple municipalities are “a major cause of our fiscal unstablility.”

This article originally appeared in the Courier Post. Click here to download a PDF of the full article.

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Courage to Connect NJ seeking to reduce the size of government in New Jersey

Gina Genovese wants to limit the size of government.

Specifically she’d like to see New Jersey’s 566 municipalities combined into roughly 125.

Genovese, of Long Hill, nine months ago founded Courage to Connect NJ, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating New Jerseyans about roles they can play in consolidating municipalities and restructuring administrative services to reduce the tax burden on the citizenry.

She held a workshop in Jefferson last week, and will hold another on Oct. 14 at the Morris County Library at 7 p.m. Genovese served on the Long Hill Township Committee and was mayor for a year. She’s sinced left elected politics and makes it a point to keep politics out of her presentations.

“It’s for the people to decide, I don’t want to sit here and tell you what should happen,” she said Tuesday during a phone interview regarding what municipalities she believes should be consolidated.

“The people cannot be blindsided by this — they have to be part of this process when it starts,” she said.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Record. Click here to download a full PDF of the article.

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Merger advocate to visit Merchantville

The founder of an organization that advocates municipal consolidation will visit Merchantville on Wednesday night to support some residents’ effort to combine the borough with neighboring Cherry Hill.

Courage to Connect New Jersey founder Gina Genovese will present a program from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church on West Maple Avenue. Genovese said her presentation will be a “comprehensive program and presentation that educates the public on the issue.”

A group of Merchantville residents this year petitioned the borough government to merge Merchantville with Cherry Hill. Since then, elected officials in both communities have begun considering the request.

This article originally appeared in the Courier Post. Click here to download a full PDF of the article.

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Municipal Mergers are a Tall Order in N.J.

Reducing the number of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities will save taxpayers money and improve the business climate, according to advocates for local government consolidation.

Their efforts are now getting support from a new nonprofit, Courage to Connect New Jersey, and from an attempt by residents of Merchantville to combine with its larger neighbor, Cherry Hill.

Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey, said municipal mergers can lead to increased economic development.


This article orginally appeared in NJBIZ. Click here to download a PDF version of the full article.

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News & Videos


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Mayor Liz Lempert Video (click image to watch on nj.com; video is below slideshow)


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Gina's "Can NJ Connect?" video:




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