NEW BRUNSWICK – Middlesex County officials announced a planned arrangement with Mercer County to share juvenile services on Tuesday.
Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano and Freeholder Deputy Director Ronald G. Rios said that, if approved by the state, juvenile offenders from Mercer County would be housed in the Middlesex County Youth Services Facility in North Brunswick beginning June 1.
Under the planned agreement, Mercer County would close its Youth Detention Center in Ewing Township and pay Middlesex County to house its juvenile offenders, with a guaranteed minimum of 20 individuals per day. The agreement must be authorized by both the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the plan would have to be approved by the state.
It would be a similar arrangement to the agreement Middlesex County began with Monmouth County last year, which so far has generated $2.5 million in revenue for Middlesex County, and with Somerset County more than a decade ago. The terms and conditions of the Mercer County agreement are being finalized.
The two counties began exploring the possibility of sharing youth detention 18 months ago.
“This agreement would take advantage of our efficient, state-of-the-art Youth Services facility while at the same time lessen the burden on our taxpayers,” said Rios, chair of the county’s Law and Public Safety Committee. “Our focus on rehabilitation and education serves young offenders well and helps prepare them for productive lives after they leave the facility.”
“The economic challenges we are all facing now 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 services wherever appropriate. I thank Mercer County for working with us to realize our shared goals.”
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