Gov. Chris Christie recently said he can punt a football into Mendham Township from his home in Mendham Borough. Mendham Township Mayor Richard Krieg says ultimately the Mendhams need to come back together.
While these two leaders come from two different perspectives, they both acknowledge that the current system is expensive and redundant. In this time of enormous economic stress, we need to work toward combining administrations throughout the state’s 566 municipalities. The Mendhams have talked, studied, or voted to merge their two towns. But the concept has never moved forward, as the studies have shown there always seems to be one winner and one loser. If Mendham Township and Mendham Borough combined, they would still only make up another small town of about 10,000. As the former mayor of Long Hill, a town of about 9,000, I know the cost to run the town was carried by about 3,000 households. That burden is too great. If only two towns merge, we just don’t get the significant savings and improved services that we’ve been promised. So let’s broaden our thinking beyond the two town merger. The Mendhams and adjacent Chester Borough and Chester Township currently share a recreation department. Why? Because it is a much more efficient department. The arrangement provides much better combined services than the four towns could do individually. These towns must expand these savings across the departments that make up the majority of the town budget: police, public works, administrative costs and physical plant operations. Just imagine the savings.