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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

EDITORIAL Push New Jersey towns to find way to merge

Municipal consolidation may be gaining momentum.

Consider some recent events:

The two Princetons have formed a commission to investigate consolidation, the first time the towns will formally sit down and discuss the issue since 1996.

Hightstown and East Windsor have entered discussions to determine if a township police takeover could save the borough money.

State Senate legislation that would merge the tiny borough of Teterboro into four adjacent towns — South Hackensack, Little Ferry, Moonachie and Hasbrouck Heights — has won committee approval and awaits a vote of the full Senate.    Several hundred residents of the small Camden County borough of Merchantville signed a petition asking borough officials to begin researching a possible merger with neighboring Cherry Hill Township.

And former Gov. Thomas Kean, speaking at a Bergen County forum last month, endorsed consolidation of New Jersey towns to make local government more efficient.

”To consolidate services to really lower property taxes — I think the time has come,” he told the forum, according to The Record of Hackensack.

All of this comes on the heels of an October poll from Quinnipiac University that showed overwhelming support for municipal and school district consolidations.

And yet, consolidation remains off the table in Trenton, aside from legislation introduced by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, that would force the merger of the half dozen towns on Long Beach Island into one town and consolidate all doughnut-and-hole towns — such as the Princetons, Hightstown and East Windsor and Jamesburg and Monroe.

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