TRENTON – The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on Monday approved a bill sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) aimed at pushing New Jersey municipalities to share services.
“If governments don’t wish to run their towns more cost-effectively, there is no reason the taxpayers of New Jersey should have to foot their bill,” said Sweeney. “It is time we start providing the necessary incentives to get us moving on shared services. Towns can share services with each other while not losing their individual identity or the uniqueness of their communities.”
The legislation, S-2, would require New Jersey’s Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) to study municipal governments to determine where taxpayer dollars could be saved through sharing of services. If the study shows that a savings can be realized through sharing that service in one or more local governments or departments, the question of whether to do so or not would be put to a public referendum in all municipalities involved, assuming those municipalities do not enter into a shared services agreement on their own. If the towns involved fail to either enter into a shared services agreement or pass the proposal by public referendum, they would be subject to losing state aid in the amount equal to what they would have saved had they shared the service. If one town approves it but another denies it, only the town that denied it would lose aid.
Civil service rules would be suspended or relaxed for employees impacted by any shared services agreement that is reached. This would address a concern raised by local government leaders that civil service rules serve as a barrier to sharing services.
The legislation now moves to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
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