[OPINION] Shared Services Programs

Ronald Rios

Ronald Rios

by Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ron Rios

Over the years Middlesex County has built an impressive portfolio of Shared Services opportunities that either bring in revenue or help us lower our operating expenses. These initiatives run the gamut from our incredibly successful open space preservation program, to our innovative emergency services initiatives, and finally to a cooperative purchasing program that allows the County and our municipal partners to lower the cost of equipment, services and supplies.

Though the state began encouraging the use of Shared Services just a couple of years ago, Middlesex County had established and has been increasing these types of opportunities for decades.

Middlesex County started the Open Space and Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund in 1995, founding one of the most aggressive land preservation programs in the state. In working with our municipal partners and the state we have saved forever 7,427 acres of precious open land and saved 4,817 acres of farmland throughout the County. We have also built modern recreation facilities, including turf fields, and have helped our municipalities do the same.

Middlesex County is the health department for 22 of 25 of our towns. This allows our municipalities to lower administrative costs while bringing in revenue to the County and raising the quality and consistency of public health services for all our residents.
We also reached across county borders back in 1998 when we built with Somerset County a state-of-the-art youth services building. We have expanded our reach into Monmouth and Mercer counties bringing in revenue and fully utilizing the center. Middlesex and Monmouth counties also partnered in an agreement for medical examiner services now fully provided for both counties by our outstanding Middlesex County staff.

Through the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, the County offers a cooperative purchasing program. By buying in bulk, participants save taxpayer dollars when purchasing office supplies, janitorial supplies and other commodities such as rock salt.

Using the County’s Triple A bond rating, the Improvement Authority also offers municipalities a program through which they can borrow money at lower interest rates so that they can buy critical items such as ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, emergency communications equipment and heavy equipment to clear snow-covered roads.

County offices also are providing needed services to our communities such as road paving, fire safety inspections and emergency communications to enhance their local services and save them money.

Put simply, sharing services is good government. Rest assured Middlesex County will continue to look for way to expand our portfolio to serve you better.

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