NEW BRUNSWICK – Middlesex and Monmouth counties would each save their taxpayers over $20 million – a total of $40 million—over the next 10 years under a unique Shared Services agreement for Youth Services.
If both counties authorize the agreement, the Monmouth County juvenile facility in Freehold Township will close, and all juveniles will be housed at the Middlesex County Youth Services Center in North Brunswick Township.
The agreement would begin July 1 and is for a 10-year period. It would be a similar arrangement to the agreement Middlesex County has had with Somerset County for the last 10 years.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted to authorize the agreement at its regular meeting on Jan. 28. The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders is expected to vote on the agreement at its regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 4.
“This agreement would enhance operational efficiency at our Youth Services facility while at the same time lessen the burden on our taxpayers,” Middlesex County Freeholder Mildred S. Scott said. “Over the life of the 10-year agreement, Middlesex County residents will save more than $20 million. That represents substantial savings and it is an example of the cost-effective government our residents deserve.”
“This is a good example of a shared services arrangement where one county works with another county in a bi-partisan way to the benefit of taxpayers in both counties,” Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “We would reduce our operating costs significantly, and Middlesex County would gain new revenue. This is how sharing services is supposed to work.”
Under the agreement, Monmouth County would pay Middlesex County to provide up to 37 beds per day, a number that is well above the average number of juveniles Monmouth County housed during the last five years. The number of juveniles at the Monmouth County facility in 2009 averaged about 25 per month.
The two counties began exploring the possibility of sharing Youth Services last year. The issue was raised again this year as a budget-saving measure and because the Middlesex County facility is newer and has more accommodations than are available in Monmouth County.
“When it comes to juvenile detention, the focus is always on rehabilitation,” Monmouth County Freeholder Robert D. Clifton said. “Rehabilitation is achieved through education, and there really is no comparison between the Monmouth and Middlesex facilities. The Middlesex facility is far superior to what we can offer here in Monmouth, and the juveniles we will send to Middlesex will have a much better chance of successfully transitioning into adulthood because of it.”
Furthermore, closing the Monmouth County facility will eliminate the need for more than $12 million in capital improvements needed to bring the 40-year-old facility up to current standards. Monmouth County has been mandated to make those improvements.
“The challenges the economy presents to us demand that we find new ways to reduce the cost of County government and reduce the tax burden on our residents,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano. “As a Freeholder Board, we are committed to working closely with our neighboring counties and with our municipal partners to drive down the cost of government through regionalization and sharing of services wherever appropriate and I thank Monmouth County for working with us to realize our shared goals.”
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