Intro-Local Officials | Intro-Citizens | How to Use | Community Challenge | Authors | Letter
Overview | Six Steps | Sample Timeline | One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six
Woodbridge Model | What Woodbridge Can Afford? | How Much Does Small Cost?
Glossary | Common Questions | Historic First | A Century of Support
Why consolidate now?
New Jersey is verging on bankruptcy. municipal staffs have been reduced to bare bones to adapt to the reduced state funding and mandated budget caps. Additional cuts to local state aid will tighten revenue streams. municipalities will need to further reduce services, cut staff and hours of operation. They are resorting to borrowing to finance operating costs but the bond ratings of municipalities have been lowered creating increased costs for borrowing funds. The redundancy of municipal structures is costly and inefficient. The pension costs alone are growing exponentially. The results are a 250 percent property tax increase over the past ten years. When will we be proactive about addressing the state and local distress? Consolidation allows New Jersey to create stronger, less redundant municipalities.
What would a consolidated, or “connected,” municipality look like?
Woodbridge Township (population 99,585) is the model of a successful municipality. There are ten distinct “communities” in Woodbridge – Avenel, Colonia, fords, Hopelawn, Iselin, Keasbey, menlo Park Terrace, Port Reading, Sewaren, and Woodbridge Proper – but all are governed by a single municipal structure. Unlike most other communities in New Jersey, which incorporated as their own towns in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these ten places remained a single township. As a result, today Woodbridge is able to provide superior services to its residents at a lower cost than smaller, surrounding municipalities. (For more, see pages 30-33.)
Will my town lose its name or identity?
No. The Woodbridge model shows how each community still retains its own name and identity although there is one government. Another example is Short Hills, with a distinct residential and business community but it is governed through Millburn. There are over 300 identifiable “towns” in the state that a known by a name different than that of their government.
How much money will I save?
The cost of running a municipality will be spread out across a larger tax base and services will be delivered more efficiently through economies of scale. Larger municipalities have better leverage in contract negotiations and purchasing. They will have the ability to eliminate many contracted services and bring them in house for reduced cost. The sale of unneeded properties will result in lower operating costs, shifting properties to the tax base and generating funds for debt reduction or capital expenditures.
A recent study done by Summit Collaborative Advisors, LLC, determined that it costs forty percent less to run the Township of Woodbridge than the cost to operate ten separate towns equal in size to the communities in Woodbridge. Another study determined that the school system also costs forty percent less per student than a smaller school system. Woodbridge Township provides professional administration and superior services for this reduced cost. They have in-house special education, a municipal ice rink, local garbage collection, detectives on duty 24/7, an Information Technology staff that saves millions in IT costs, a full-time grant writer that brings in federal dollars, an economic development director that encourages job growth and smart development in the town, and a full-time mayor.
Mayors and Councils don’t cost any real money, yet you want to get rid of these hard-working public servants. Where are the real savings?
The real savings come from the elimination of redundant positions that are required for each town. This includes township administrators, clerks, tax assessors, CFOs, inspectors, attorneys, and DPW management. For example, one administrator can just as easily serve a community of 4,000 or 40,000 but, in the larger town, the cost is covered by ten times the number of residents. mayors and councils/committees would come from a larger pool of qualified people. Dual office holding would be impossible to justify. Mayors for all communities would be elected rather than appointed by their committee providing better representation and accountability to the public. The new model also gives mayors and councils/committees more leverage with the state and contract negotiations.
Won’t your plan reduce municipal services?
By consolidating municipalities, there will be more funds available to continue municipal services that are now being eliminated due to the current economic conditions.
Why have there been so few successful mergers in New Jersey?
Every time a merger has been proposed, the experts talk amongst themselves and never present to the public from their place of understanding. When the public gets involved they only see the loss of community and are swayed by the nay-sayers and rumor mongers. No one has ever listened to the fears of the public and properly addressed them. Courage to Connect NJ wants to get the public informed enough to be excited about the opportunity of casting their vote to save New Jersey.
Should the state mandate consolidation?
Absolutely not. State mandates do not educate the public and will not change the public’s perception of municipal mergers. The state has already created the legislation that will allow towns to consolidate. Any further state action should provide education rather than coercion and punishment for communities that do not have a full understanding of the issue. This restructuring of the state can only work with the knowledge and support of the majority of the voters.
PUBLIC SAFETY CONSOLIDATIONS
Answers to these questions were provided by Les Adams, President of Public Safety Solutions, Inc.
Can municipal public safety agencies be merged?
Yes. Two or more municipalities may choose to consolidate police, fire, emergency medical and/or dispatch agencies/departments, for example. Experience from successful public safety mergers has shown that regionalizing fire agencies allows communities to lower expenses (by reducing operating costs, salaries, and wages) and increase revenue (by selling excess facilities and vehicles). In addition, regionalized agencies can improve services by reducing emergency response times, improving safety, and expanding coverage.
Have public safety agency mergers been successful in the past?
Yes. There are many examples of successful public safety agency consolidations. Two are particularly notable and took place in Hudson County in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1998, the mayors of North Bergen, Union City, Weehawken, West New York and Guttenberg commissioned a study by a nationally recognized management consulting firm to develop a feasibility study and plan to regionalize municipal fire departments. On January 11, 1999, the North Hudson Regional fire and Rescue (NHRFR) was created and began providing fire services, as the third largest fire services delivery agency in New Jersey.
The NHRFR serves 195,000 residents and 50,000 commuters in the 10 square miles around the Lincoln Tunnel. The NHRfR was established under the New Jersey Consolidated municipal Service Act. It is administered by an autonomous governing body known as the “joint meeting,” comprised of a management committee of 5 members; one appointed by the governing body of each of the five participating towns.
The management committee oversees the administration of the NHRFR fire department through two co-directors and a fire Chief. According to NHRFR officials, in its first year of operations the new organization reportedly saved approximately $3 million by eliminating two fire stations, a number of chiefs and other positions. The average property tax bill in the five towns was reduced by about $400.
Ten years later, a review of the NHRfR indicated savings and region-wide services delivery improvements in a number of key areas, including:
- A single, integrated administration and command structure;
- An area-wide fire prevention program;
- A progressive fire and rescue training programs;
- A marine division and new boat service implemented;
- A state-of-the-art firefighter safety programs;
- A new headquarters station built; and,
- Life-saving progressive rescue and special services.
These fire services delivery accomplishments would likely not have been possible through the original five separate small fire agencies.
A second example of a successful public safety consolidation in the Hudson County area is the North Hudson Regional Communications Center (NHRCC). The Center was initially implemented in 1981 to provide emergency fire dispatch services to the five townships and their fire departments—currently the NHRFR. The NHRCC is a model agency and has now successfully provided emergency fire dispatch services to the five participating towns for more than 30 years. The NHRCC is now a part of the NHRFR and its management committee provides oversight.
Are fire district mergers possible?
Yes. Even though they are not part of a municipality, two or more fire districts may and have successfully been consolidated into one fire district or municipal fire agency. Such a consolidation is illustrated by the Cherry Hill fire district merger.
What is the cause of New Jersey’s high property taxes?
|Alpine||Andover Borough||Andover Township|
|Asbury Park||Atlantic City||Atlantic Highlands|
|Barrington||Bass River||Bay Head|
|Berkeley||Berkeley Heights||Berlin Borough|
|Bogota||Boonton Town||Boonton Township|
|Bordentown City||Bordentown Township||Burlington|
|Bound Brook||Bradley Beach||Branchburg|
|Burlington City||Burlington Township||Burlington|
|Cape May Point||Carlstadt||Carneys Point|
|Carteret||Cedar Grove||Chatham Borough|
|Chatham Township||Cherry Hill||Chesilhurst|
|Chester Borough||Chester Township||Chesterfield|
|Cinnaminson||City Of Orange||Clark|
|Clifton||Clinton Town||Clinton Township|
|Closter Bergen||Collingswood||Colts Neck|
|Edgewater Park||Edison||Egg Harbor|
|Egg Harbor City||Elizabeth||Elk|
|Elmer Salem||Elmwood Park||Elsinboro|
|Englishtown||Essex Fells||Estell Manor|
|Fair Lawn||Fairfield (Cumb)||Fairfield (Essex)|
|Fort Lee||Frankford||Franklin (Glou)|
|Franklin (Hunt)||Franklin (Som)||Franklin (Suss)|
|Franklin (Warr)||Franklin Lakes||Fredon|
|Freehold Borough||Freehold Township||Frelinghuysen|
|Glen Gardner||Glen Ridge||Glen Rock|
|Gloucester City||Gloucester Township||Green|
|Green Brook||Greenwich (Cumb)||Greenwich (Glou)|
|Hamburg||Hamilton (Atl)||Hamilton (Mer)|
|Hammonton||Hampton (Hunt)||Hampton (Suss)|
|Harrison (Glou)||Harrison (Hud)||Harvey Cedars|
|Lawrence (Mer)||Lebanon Borough||Lebanon Township|
|Little Egg Harbor||Little Falls||Little Ferry|
|Little Silver||Livingston||Loch Arbour|
|Long Branch||Long Hill||Longport|
|Mannington||Mansfield (Bur)||Mansfield (Warr)|
|Maple Shade||Maplewood||Margate City|
|Mendham Borough||Mendham Township||Merchantville|
|Millburn||Millstone (Mon)||Millstone (Som)|
|Monmouth Beach||Monroe (Glou)||Monroe (Mid)|
|Morristown||Mount Arlington||Mount Ephraim|
|Mount Holly||Mount Laurel||Mount Olive|
|National Park||Neptune||Neptune City|
|Netcong||New Brunswick||New Hanover|
|New Milford||New Providence||Newark|
|North Bergen||North Brunswick||North Caldwell|
|North Haledon||North Hanover||North Plainfield|
|Oaklyn Borough||Ocean (Mon)||Ocean (Ocean)|
|Ocean City||Ocean Gate||Oceanport|
|Ogdensburg||Old Bridge||Old Tappan|
|Paramus||Park Ridge||Parsippany-Troy Hills|
|Peapack & Gladstone||Pemberton Borough||Pemberton Township|
|Pine Hill||Pine Valley||Piscataway|
|Pohatcong||Point Pleasant||Point Pleasant Beach|
|Pompton Lakes||Port Republic||Princeton Borough|
|Princeton Township||Prospect Park||Quinton|
|Red Bank||Ridgefield||Ridgefield Park|
|Riverton||Rochelle Park||Rockaway Borough|
|Rockaway Township||Rockleigh||Rocky Hill|
|Sayreville||Scotch Plains||Sea Bright|
|Sea Girt||Sea Isle City||Seaside Heights|
|Shiloh||Ship Bottom||Shrewsbury Borough|
|Shrewsbury Township||Somerdale||Somers Point|
|Somerville||South Amboy||South Belmar|
|South Bound Brook||Somerset||South Brunswick|
|South Hackensack||South Harrison||South Plainfield|
|South River||South Toms River||Southampton|
|Sparta||Spotswood||Spring Lake Boro|
|Spring Lake Heights||Springfield (Burl)||Springfield (Union)|
|Stockton||Stone Harbor||Stow Creek|
|Union (Hunt)||Union (Union)||Union Beach|
|Union City||Upper||Upper Deerfield|
|Upper Freehold||Upper Pittsgrove||Upper Saddle River|
|Victory Gardens||Village Of South||Orange|
|Washington (Berg)||Washington (Bur)||Washington (Glou)|
|Washington (Mer)||Washington (Mor)||Washington Borough|
|West Caldwell||West Cape May||West Deptford|
|West Long Branch||West Milford||West New York|
|West Orange||West Paterson||West Wildwood|
|Woodbury||Woodbury Heights||Woodcliff Lake|