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"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

In the News

N.J. needs a consolidation ‘tool kit’

On Feb. 17, the State Senate took a big step toward reforming our fragmented system of local government. Let’s hope this is the just the beginning.

For more than a century, state lawmakers have been promoting municipal consolidation as a way to cut waste, reduce inefficiency and lower local property taxes. But none of the policies designed to make consolidation easier ever really worked and, since 1952, only a single pair of towns have merged.

At Courage to Connect New Jersey — the only nonpartisan organization that focuses exclusively on encouraging municipal mergers — we have watched numerous towns try to consolidate, only to see them stumble on unexpected obstacles.

Now, against the backdrop of a financial crisis and Gov. Chris Christie’s new 2 percent property tax cap, things are finally changing. Lawmakers realize that consolidation may well be the only way to prevent some communities from declaring bankruptcy. And so policymakers are preparing legislation that eliminates some of the remaining barriers to town mergers.

On Feb. 17, the Senate unanimously passed S-2465, which gives voters new power to initiate consolidations even when local elected officials balk. In those cases, the law would allow one town’s governing council to partner with a neighboring town’s voters to create a consolidation “study commission.” Thanks to the tireless advocacy of Senate co-sponsors Robert Gordon and James Beach, as well as Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the bill has sailed through the Legislature.

Continue reading this article in the Daily Record or download a full PDF here


Advocates for municipal consolidation to hold forums in Union County

UNION COUNTY — A group planting the seeds of public support for local government consolidation is pushing the idea in several Union County towns.

Courage to Connect New Jersey, which advocates grassroots efforts to affect large-scale municipal consolidation, is — once again — holding forums in the western part of the county, where some suburban communities have embraced shared services.

The group will host a forum Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the VFW Hall in Berkeley Heights, where its executive director, Gina Genovese, owns a business. On March 2, she’ll talk to Scotch Plains and Fanwood residents at 7:30 p.m. at Brunner Elementary School in Scotch Plains.

“We never go into a town unless we’re asked,” said Genovese, the former mayor of Long Hill Township and one-time Democratic candidate for state Senate.

Fred Lange invited Genovese to Scotch Plains, where residents will discuss the possibility of consolidation with Fanwood. Lange heard her speak last year and has since become active with the group. Consolidation, he said, is long overdue, especially in his community where a joint school system has operated for years.

“What we’re trying to do is combine the rest of town,” he said. “It’s just not cost effective for us to be separate.”

But Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, a Democrat in her second term, believes consolidation is far from being an immediate answer to the financial struggles of New Jersey’s communities.

“We’ve been pretty consistent locally where we believe the route to go now, where we believe we can achieve savings more immediately, is shared services,” Mahr said, noting a shared police dispatch system has saved her borough about $250,000 over three years.

Scotch Plains has 23,510 residents, and Fanwood has 7,318, according to the 2010 Census. A merged municipality would have far fewer residents than the type of regional townships Courage to Connect is pushing.

Genovese said she believes larger towns are stronger and cheaper to run. She’d like to see New Jersey’s 566 municipalities reduced to 100 to 125, and she points to Woodbridge — which has 10 distinct sections of town, and nearly 100,000 residents — as an example of what could be done elsewhere.

“We have to make sure that at the end of the day we’re left with a strong town,” she said.

Continue reading this article in The Star-Ledger, or download the full PDF here.


News & Videos

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Chad Goerner interview on NJTV:

Gina shares insights on NJTV:

Princeton's new Mayor Liz Lempert addresses the community:

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

Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner featured on NJTV:

Executive Director of CtoCNJ Discusses Consolidation on NJTV:

(click image to watch on

WMBC Introduces CtoCNJ:

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CtoCNJ on NJN:

Gina on NJN:

Fox News 29 in Cinnaminson:

CNBC in Woodbridge:

Gina's "Can NJ Connect?" video:

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