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"The pressure for consolidation begins when residents begin to recognize a problem with the current municipal structure, either because of rising taxes, lowering quality of services, or growing environmental problems."

Home Rule

Organization Champions Consolidation in Washington Twp.

New Jersey’s government–and economy–won’t be sustainable in 2020, and a change in the state’s municipal structure needs to begin now or bankruptcy is inevitable, according to Courage to Connect NJ, an organization championing municipal consolidation for the purpose of cost-savings.

Led by former Long Hill Township Mayor Gina Genovese and Wendy McCahill, the group, launched in January of 2010, gave a 45-minute presentation at the Washington Township Library on Tuesday night to a svelte, but deeply-interested crowd, followed by a 45-minute question and answer session.

The duo introduced the group’s purpose and explained the three focal points of their presentation: the need to look at New Jersey differently; the need to look at towns and individual communities differently; and what exactly is the role of the tax payer in the consolidation process.

New Jersey has the greatest number of municipalities–566–per square mile in the United States. McCahill stood next to a table with three towers that consisted of 566 placards, each one stating a municipality’s name and population. McCahill then proceeded to take each card off the stack and stand it up to face the audience while Genovese went through the presentation.

Genovese explained all the different avenues New Jersey has attempted to traverse in order to boost revenue, from the implementation of income tax in the 1970s, to allowing gambling in Atlantic City and the stoppage of funding the pension systems.

“And now we have the 2-percent cap,” Genovese said. “My heart truly goes out to elected officials having to deal with this. In the long run, this will weaken a town. It’s extremely hard to deliver quality services and not raise taxes.”

This article originally appeared in the Long Valley Patch

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