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Quotes

"The lines on the geopolitical map of New Jersey were drawn by men with political and/or economic agendas . . . today the costs of maintaining New Jersey’s multiple and redundant jurisdictions mounts into the billions of dollars."

Alan J. Karcher,
Multiple Municipal Madness

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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