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Make 2013 the 'Year of Consolidation'

 
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kenzo



Joined: 09 Oct 2007
Posts: 571

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:05 am    Post subject: Make 2013 the 'Year of Consolidation' Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Make 2013 the 'Year of Consolidation'


By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist
on January 02, 2013 at 7:33 AM, updated January 02, 2013 at 7:37 AM
By Gina Genovese


With the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, the race for governor and the ongoing search for solutions to many of New Jersey’s chronic budget problems, 2013 must be the year to change.

With all the attention on solving problems in what will be the post-fiscal cliff era, 2013 must go down in the books as the year we finally get serious about addressing the high property taxes that plague every Garden State homeowner.

New Jersey continues to fund and maintain the many separate, diverse and small towns that have defined us nationally as the "home rule" state. New Jerseyans have made it clear that we like our little hamlets, just as our parents did, and the generations before them.

For some of us, the status quo of maintaining our 565 separate municipalities must be preserved and protected at all cost — even if it is the most expensive and the most inefficient way to deliver local services.

In 2013, we must ask: Do local government services really need to be delivered this way?

No one in New Jersey wants to lose his or her "town identity." I like to visit Ocean Grove in the summer — even though the seashore resort is actually part of Neptune Township. There are so many other identifiable communities, such as Short Hills, Oakhurst, Annandale, Ortley Beach, Iselin and Basking Ridge, that are actually part of bigger towns, with different names and different identities.

If these small "towns" dotting New Jersey have been able to maintain their identities over all these years, why should we be concerned that municipal consolidation would somehow strip them of that identity?

After all, what we are calling for is the consolidation of government structures, not people and places. Do you think the people of Fanwood would suddenly say they live in Scotch Plains if the proposed town merger goes through? I’ve been there plenty, and I can confirm to you the answer is no.

With all the state mandates and pension obligations that local towns are now forced to pay, consolidation is our way out of a very difficult jam. There are clear warning signs that we must change, as the state-mandated 2 percent property tax cap has already proven to be unsustainable in many storm-ravaged towns.

I became very concerned about our high property taxes in New Jersey when I served as mayor of Long Hill Township in Morris County in 2006. I saw 3,100 households struggling to pay for the costs of an administration and police department.

As the town’s chief executive, I asked: What if revenues keep falling? What if state aid is cut again? What if we can’t cut any more employees from our Department of Public Works to maintain quality service? And, what happens if we choose not to act?
There is nothing worse than staring an unsustainable budget in the face to make you realize that New Jersey must change to address our high property taxes and make our local government work for us in the 21st century.

So how do we keep our local governments small enough to be local, but large enough to be efficient and strong? Municipal consolidation is a viable option. There is a reason that consolidation has been talked about by legislatures, governors, state commissions and towns since 1895.

What has changed now? We’re finally turning words in action.

We will have implemented a successful municipal consolidation in New Jersey, when Princeton Borough and Princeton Township unite their municipal governments into one today. These two communities created the benchmark for other towns wanting to seize control of their own destinies in 2013.

Let’s build on this historic accomplishment now. Princeton’s study commissioners and transition task force members have established the steps that other towns need to take.
It’s all laid out. Now, other towns in New Jersey must realize that both status quo and progress are not compatible. Let’s create a new chapter to this book in 2013, before your town falls off its own fiscal cliff.

Gina Genovese is executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey.
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spazcat



Joined: 26 Feb 2008
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Location: whatsamatta u

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:14 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

I can see the people of nw and the crest all running to pay for ww's misadventures. Better to get active and get rid of the BLT regime. WW is going to have to solve their own problems kenzo. Good luck! Cool
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kenzo



Joined: 09 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:21 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

My hope is that the state forces it.
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spazcat



Joined: 26 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:27 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

I could be wrong but i doubt the state will do anything of the sort. There would be lawsuits from jersey to the moon if they tried. Your grandkids grandkids will die of old age and it will still be tied up in court! The state needs to take over ww get the city on a firm financial footing and then who knows. Cool
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kenzo



Joined: 09 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:30 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

A county wide school district would be where to start. If, you don't have a high school then you should merge with the district that you send your children to for HS.
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spazcat



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:34 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

seems reasonable, so its not gonna happen. Cool
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eyenstein



Joined: 28 Jun 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:50 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

I'm quite positive if the referendum to merge the four municipalities into one was put to a vote, like it was done in Princeton, it would not pass.
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spazcat



Joined: 26 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:59 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

agree eye, its just not gonna happen. its always the ww people posting this kind of thing. odd nobody from n.w. or the crest seems to be clamoring for a consolidation of the towns, wonder why? Laughing
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JerseyDevil



Joined: 04 Aug 2009
Posts: 1466

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:47 pm    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

kenzo wrote:
A county wide school district would be where to start. If, you don't have a high school then you should merge with the district that you send your children to for HS.
Thats not a bad idea but the problems as I understand them are:
1) NJ's Constitution allows for 'home rule' meaning if you want your own form of local government and all that it entails, you can have it.
2) Even districts that don't have their own schools have a BOE to handle/process education costs for the school aged kids in their district. For example Cape May Point doesn't have a school but they have a BOE and they send their kids to Cape May or LT and pay them directly. The BOE in CM Point handles the finances of that. How much do those members earn? I'm not sure but I'm confident that it's not so much that they would want to give up their autonomy over a few thousand dollars.
3) The state would be foolish to "FORCE" anyone to consolidate due to the impending lawsuits which, more than anything else, waste tax payer money on both sides of the issue. The state can and has threatened to cut state funding for services that could be merged. So far I don't believe this has happened anywhere in the state.
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sharks-eat-commies



Joined: 26 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:25 pm    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

kenzo wrote:
My hope is that the state forces it.


Kenzo, why do you want this?
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spazcat



Joined: 26 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:51 pm    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

so somebody will have to help kenzo and the rest of ww with their staggering debt. apparently voting in a competent government is out of the question.
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eyenstein



Joined: 28 Jun 2011
Posts: 968

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:53 pm    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Let me edit my previous post. 1 of the 4 island towns would pass it.
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