BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - On paper, the concept is fairly simple – New Jersey towns facing elimination of, or huge cuts, in state aid, should explore connecting multiple municipalities under one administration for the sake of cost savings.
The problem, according to Gina Genovese, the executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey, who spoke with The Alternative Press after her presentation at the Berkeley Heights Library on Wednesday night, is that some towns are quicker to make decisions based on image than the substance.
“Loss of town identity is a huge fear,” Genovese said. “We need to discuss town identity (in order to make progress).”
Courage to Connect has a tall order. It’s a non-profit that exists to create awareness of the potential for the consolidation of municipalities that are often fraught with political fears and pride.
While readers of The Alternative Press and other news outlets have read quite a bit about shared services in municipalities recently, Genovese says that shared services is more of a band aid while amputation is really what is needed. It’s no longer enough for two or three towns to share emergency dispatch systems, for example.
“I don’t think it’s a choice any longer, most towns have to do this,” said Genovese, who is a former mayor of Long Hill Township. “The only way to bring about real, lasting, change is for five to 10 municipalities to join forces.”