Photo by: Bob Karp/The Daily Record
MENDHAM — Forces are converging to unite both Mendhams, both Chesters and Washington Township under one municipal government and one school system.
It is a plan Gina Genovese, co-founder of Courage to Connect NJ, encouraged Wednesday at a Mendham Borough Library forum that drew two dozen homeowners.
The nonprofit, which has given some 30 presentations statewide since it formed last year, is pushing the idea that true savings occur when five to 10 municipalities connect by sharing a government and keeping their individual identities as neighborhoods.
A band of 15 residents from the Chesters and Mendhams, now emerging publicly as the Mendham Chester Alliance, said at the forum that they have calculated that uniting their four municipalities under one government and one school system would save $32 million a year.
“If you adjust the tax formula and make it the same for each town, that’s about a 30 percent savings on everybody’s taxes,” said Bruce Flitcroft of Mendham Township, the chief executive officer of Alliant Technologies and an alliance member. “That’s huge. How do you argue with it?”
The alliance website, www.mendhamchester.org, is unfinished, but is gaining subscribers nonetheless.
Genovese is a tennis club owner whose experience as former mayor of Long Hill convinced her to co-found Courage to Connect NJ last year with Wendy McCahill.
Their argument: The costs of maintaining too many local governments have been driving up property taxes for too long. Further, all efforts to offset property taxes have failed or are failing — the 1976 income tax, Atlantic City gambling, municipal spending caps, dwindling rebates and not funding pensions.
“Five hundred sixty-six New Jersey towns in 2020 is not sustainable,” she said. “We’re on the Titanic.”
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