Advocates for the consolidation of some of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities visited the Berkeley Heights VFW at 15 Locust Avenue on Wednesday to discuss possible methods for townships to merge together and operate under a single governing body.
Gina Genovese and Wendy McCahill of Courage to Connect New Jersey, which is a grassroots consolidation initiative that is encouraging towns to consolidate, gave a presentation at the VFW that gave some insight as to how consolidation could help alleviate the current perilous financial state of New Jersey.
“Anytime you open up a paper you see the financial struggle our state is in right now,” said McCahill. “We’re all taxpayers, we continually see our bills go up and up, and we’re all like, ‘when is this going to end?’”
Genovese, a former Berkeley Heights resident and current business owner, has served in elected office in various positions, including a stint as the Mayor of Long Hill Township. She encourages anyone willing to listen to consolidation ideas to examine how such ideas could help the individual towns, as well as the state as a whole.
“We’re here to do three things: we’re here to take a look at the State of New Jersey differently – is it essential to have 566 municipal and administrative structures delivering local services?,” said Genovese. “We’re here to look at our towns and communities differently – will consolidation cost us our town identity? Lastly, we need to look at ourselves as voters and tax payers. Are we helpless? Is there nothing we can do about this?”
Genovese believes that by consolidating multiple municipalities to operate under a single governing body, the tax burden on New Jersey residents, as well as the financial burden on the municipalities themselves, will decrease dramatically.