Talks of a municipal merger between Phillipsburg-area governments have begun. Pohatcong Township Mayor Jim Kern III hosted a forum last week to discuss consolidating Alpha, Phillipsburg and Pohatcong, Lopatcong and Greenwich townships.
“There are 566 towns in the state of New Jersey and 566 mayors in the state,” Kern said after the forum. “It’s crazy the amount of duplication between services.” The consolidation would result in one governing body, one mayor, one council, one administrator, one attorney, one land use board, one chief financial officer, one tax assessor and one court system for the Phillipsburg-area, according to Kern. “There would be no reduction in services and the town would be able to operate at lower costs,” Kern said, adding he vowed to explore all possibilities to lower taxes when he was elected earlier this year. Kern invited Gina Genovese, executive director of Millington, N.J.-based Courage to Connect New Jersey, to speak at the forum. “Courage to Connect is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that addresses the financial state of New Jersey and difficulty of municipalities to deliver services and not raise taxes,” Genovese said in an interview after the forum, noting the organization has existed for two years. “The forum is a great way to start the conversation, air concerns and talk about consolidation.”