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Quotes

"Imagine a web woven by a spider on LSD and you might see a frightening similarity to the map showing the jurisdictional outlines of our 566 municipalities in NJ. Present the current facts and statistics of the situation to a systems analyst and you can expect howls of laughter. Given a free hand to reconstruct and reconfigure the present map, no one would attempt to justify a replication of the existing system."

Alan J. Karcher,
Multiple Municipal Madness

High taxes driven by multiplicity of towns

It is widely anticipated that Gov. Chris Christie’s first budget message, to be delivered Tuesday, will show the harsh reality of New Jersey’s bleak financial outlook. No one is expected to be spared.

Immediately following the governor’s address, every media outlet in the state will be hit with a barrage of letters from local lawmakers and special interest groups. Outraged and furious, they will all have legitimate reasons as to why cuts in state funding will have dire effects on the most fragile.

I sympathize with these individuals. As a former mayor in Morris County, I know the strains that come from deciding which worthwhile organizations should receive a limited amount of government aid and the consequences when that money doesn’t flow.

As New Jersey slogs through this impossible budget year, the solution for its chronic financial crisis will become evident: The only way we can control spending is by greatly reducing the number of municipalities.

With 566 towns jammed into the most densely populated state in the nation, there is a baffling duplication of effort: town halls geographically within a mile of one another, municipal garbage trucks taking short cuts through other towns to finish their routes and towns dropping their bond rating just to borrow the money for a new fire truck.

This all generates huge waste at the local level, raising taxes to the levels we are suffering through now.

My organization, Courage to Connect New Jersey, is convinced that residents will be willing to consolidate their towns if they are presented with the facts. They need to recognize the state is broke. There is no hidden pot of money. There need to be conversations at the grass roots level in communities statewide. People need to see for themselves where the waste is and how we can solve the problems together.

Read more in The Asbury Park Press

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Mayor Liz Lempert Video (click image to watch on nj.com; video is below slideshow)


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(click image to watch on PBS.org)


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Abbott and Costello take a humorous look at what we don’t know about our own communities: