Proposed Bill Gets Tough with Towns: Share Services or Else!

NJ Spotlight News | February 28, 2012 | Politics
Senate President Steve Sweeney has sponsored a bill that would reduce state aid to municipalities whose voters reject shared services that would save money.

Shared services among municipalities has become a topic of conversation as a way to save money for towns and taxpayers. Senate President Steve Sweeney has sponsored a bill that would use a state agency to determine how much money a municipality could save by sharing a service with a surrounding town. If voters reject the idea, the town would see state aid reduced by the amount of potential savings, according to the proposed legislation.

As an example, Sweeney said in Wenonah, Gloucester County, voters rejected a suggestion to share police services with a neighboring town even though it would save taxpayers $400 per household. Under the proposed legislation, Wenonah would lose state aid equal to the amount of savings. The Local Unit Alignment Reorganization and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) would determine if the shared services makes sense.

The New Jersey League of Municipalities opposes the idea of the LUARCC dictating what shared services should happen.

“In a representative form of government we believe the voters should hold elected officials accountable, not the other way around,” said League of Municipalities Executive Director Bill Dressel. “In this particular instance if the voters do not vote the way that the recommendation set forth from the state agency, they will be penalized and we think that’s unfair.”

NJToday Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron files this report.