The second edition of a book that aims to help New Jersey municipalities merge and consolidate has been published, with updates that reflect recent legislation. The “Connect NJ Guidebook: The Tools for Municipal Consolidation in New Jersey,” was first published in January by Courage to Connect New Jersey, a non-profit organization that focuses on community consolidation.
Since Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation in April that makes it easier for towns to form consolidation commissions, its creators decided to revamp it now to include the new information. “It’s absolutely ridiculous that New Jersey has 566 redundant municipalities,” said Gina Genovese, the executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey and one of the book’s three authors. “We all have to work together, we have to make a sustainable structure.” No Gloucester County municipalities are currently exploring mergers or consolidation, but Cherry Hill and Merchantville citizens have organized a group to study the concept. Members of Merchantville Connecting for the Future, a grassroots organization, has been exploring consolidation for more than a year; however, their application to study the matter was rejected by the state Department of Community Affairs in December, prompting the new legislation. The book focuses on a way to consolidate municipalities called “Local Option Municipal Consolidation,” which is a new form of consolidating that was created in 2007 by the state legislature.