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"Be courageous; try everything until something works; and dedicate yourself to your passion, trusting that ‘what you are will show in what you do.’ And, it seems, in what you leave behind."

Thomas A. Edison

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Organization brings its message of consolidation

This article originally appeared in the Burlington County Times

CINNAMINSON – Joe Davis lives in Cinnaminson. Some members of his family live in Palmyra. To visit them, Davis drives two miles but passes through three police jurisdictions.

This must be New Jersey.

Davis, who works with the state’s Bureau of Recycling as a tonnage grants administrator, was one of the passionate organizers of a meeting at the Cinnaminson Library on Wednesday night introducing Courage to Connect NJ to interested local residents. Continue reading

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Should New Jersey Consolidate Municipalities?

Fox 29 in Philadelphia covered our public forum at the Cinnaminson Library on April 21, 2010.

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NJ Towns must merge

This letter to the editor originally ran April 8, 2010 in The Star-Ledger

Dear Editor,

In regards to your April 6 editorial “Towns Must Explore Merging,” the only real, long-term tax stabilization occurs when five to 10 towns combine under one administration – one police chief, one administrator, etc.

For too long, we have left restructuring in the hands of elected officials. It is time for the taxpayers who foot the bill to demand change. Existing legislation already supports this action.

New Jerseyans need to be informed about their power to connect our communities. My non-partisan group, Courage To Connect NJ, is building a grassroots movement that will help the people make a new, affordable structure a reality in New Jersey. There is no other option.

Gina Genovese
Executive Director, Courage to Connect NJ, Long Hill Township

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Eliminate redundancy or create a new tax?

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald’s recent proposal to allow local governments to levy their own sales and income taxes will actually increase the tax burden for the residents of New Jersey.  Such a plan would simply give local elected officials another revenue stream to tap without reducing the cost of local government.
To make our state fiscally strong, we need to finally address the fact that we have 566 local governments that are duplicating the same services.  Today, every business, non-profit, and hospital is merging, closing offices and actively seeking aggressive ways to eliminate redundancy and work more efficiently.  Why isn’t local government?

The need for municipal consolidation has been studied as a possible solution for more than 40 years.  The Municipal Consolidation Act was passed in 1978 and stated “that it is in the public interest to encourage contiguous municipalities to consider consolidation as a means of insuring more rational control of growth and development, more efficient provision of local services and more effective public administration.” Continue reading

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Long Hill’s former mayor is a lone voice for municipal consolidation

LONG HILL — In the world of cutting municipal costs, shared services are the prevailing darlings of local politicians.

That’s not nearly enough, says Gina Genovese.

The former mayor of Long Hill Township and one-time Democratic candidate for State Senate is the executive director of Courage to Connect NJ, an organization that advocates municipal consolidation. It’s not a new concept in New Jersey, but Genovese has a vision of a grassroots effort to effect large-scale consolidation, calling for groups of five to 10 municipalities to join together in an effort to reduce property taxes and improve services.

“If you were a business owner, you would not have 566 offices around New Jersey offering the same service,” Genovese said.

Genovese began considering consolidation during her tenure as mayor in 2006, when Long Hill and Bernards townships merged their police communications departments.

“At the end of the day, there was very small savings,” she said. “(Shared services) is taking a complicated structure and making it more complicated…You’re not taking the largest part of a municipal budget and addressing that.”

Read the full article in The Star-Ledger

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High taxes driven by multiplicity of towns

It is widely anticipated that Gov. Chris Christie’s first budget message, to be delivered Tuesday, will show the harsh reality of New Jersey’s bleak financial outlook. No one is expected to be spared.

Immediately following the governor’s address, every media outlet in the state will be hit with a barrage of letters from local lawmakers and special interest groups. Outraged and furious, they will all have legitimate reasons as to why cuts in state funding will have dire effects on the most fragile.

I sympathize with these individuals. As a former mayor in Morris County, I know the strains that come from deciding which worthwhile organizations should receive a limited amount of government aid and the consequences when that money doesn’t flow.

As New Jersey slogs through this impossible budget year, the solution for its chronic financial crisis will become evident: The only way we can control spending is by greatly reducing the number of municipalities.

With 566 towns jammed into the most densely populated state in the nation, there is a baffling duplication of effort: town halls geographically within a mile of one another, municipal garbage trucks taking short cuts through other towns to finish their routes and towns dropping their bond rating just to borrow the money for a new fire truck.

This all generates huge waste at the local level, raising taxes to the levels we are suffering through now.

My organization, Courage to Connect New Jersey, is convinced that residents will be willing to consolidate their towns if they are presented with the facts. They need to recognize the state is broke. There is no hidden pot of money. There need to be conversations at the grass roots level in communities statewide. People need to see for themselves where the waste is and how we can solve the problems together.

Read more in The Asbury Park Press

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Gina Genovese op-ed piece on NewJerseyNewsroom.com

It is widely anticipated that Gov. Chris Christie’s first budget message, to be delivered on March 16, will show the harsh reality of New Jersey’s bleak financial outlook. No one is expected to be spared.

Immediately following the Governor’s address, every media outlet in the state will be hit with a barrage of letters from local lawmakers and special interest groups. Outraged and furious, these writers will all have very legitimate reasons as to why cuts in state funding will have dire effects on the most fragile New Jerseyans.

I sympathize with these individuals. As a former mayor in Morris County, I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with constituents about the hard decisions that have to be made. I know first-hand the strains that come from deciding which worthwhile organizations should receive a limited amount of government aid and the consequences when that money doesn’t come.

As New Jersey slogs through this impossible budget year, the solution for the state’s chronic budget crisis will become glaringly evident: The only way in which we can control spending is by greatly reducing the number of municipalities in the state.

Continue reading the full article on newjerseynewsroom.com

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Courage to Connect NJ on CNBC

Gina Genovese, the executive director of Courage to Connect NJ was interviewed on CNBC during a segment New Jersey’s problem of too many towns, too many school districts, too many fire departments, and not enough dollars to go around.

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Tax caps not working

In the Sunday 3/7/10  Star Ledger article “Blowing the lid off cap on taxes”, Sen. Sweeeny stated “…lower taxes can’t come with the amount of government we have.”   Our legislature has instituted caps to try to keep our property taxes from rising.  But these caps are not working.  The structure of 566 separate municipal governments across the state is no longer affordable.  Two-thirds of the state budget is sent back to our towns.  If we had fewer local governments, that money would go much further.  Fortunately, we, the people can petition to join multiple towns under one government.  Then we can vote to make New Jersey a place in which we can continue to afford to live.

Star Ledger article:

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/nj_municipalities_raise_taxes_1.html

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Courage to Connect interview with Hall Institute

Gina Genovese in interviewed by Rich Lee on the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey about New Jersey multiplicity of municipalities.

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News & Videos


Visit CTCNJ on YouTube


Chad Goerner interview on NJTV:




Gina shares insights on NJTV:




Princeton's new Mayor Liz Lempert addresses the community:

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


Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner featured on NJTV:




Executive Director of CtoCNJ Discusses Consolidation on NJTV:

NJToday
(click image to watch on PBS.org)


WMBC Introduces CtoCNJ:




WMBC Continues the Conversation:




CtoCNJ on NJN:




Gina on NJN:




Fox News 29 in Cinnaminson:




CNBC in Woodbridge:




Gina's "Can NJ Connect?" video:




Abbott and Costello take a humorous look at what we don’t know about our own communities: