In its role as New Jersey’s matchmaker of municipal entities, Courage to Connect NJ on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, will award the Roxbury Mount Arlington Study Commission a grant of $7,500 to sustain the commission’s study of a groundbreaking initiative in New Jersey– consolidating both municipalities (Roxbury and Mount Arlington) and their schools.
In March 2014, members of the these two Morris County municipalities petitioned the New Jersey Department of Community affairs to form the Roxbury Mount Arlington Study Commission to consider the consolidation of Roxbury Township and its neighboring municipality of Mount Arlington.
The commission’s efforts, however, have been stymied, because of the lack of state funding to support the consolidation study activities. Even though the state has lent lip-service encouragement to the principle of consolidation, New Jersey has failed to lend pocket-book support.
“While property taxes are the highest in the nation in New Jersey, little is done by our political leaders to lower taxes and honor the state statute they passed to encourage municipal consolidation studies and help fund the efforts,” said Craig Heard, chair of the Roxbury Mount Arlington Study Commission. “Passing legislation and not supporting it fiscally is only a ‘photo opportunity’ for our politicians that offers no real commitment to the legislation that could result in reducing property taxes.”
Courage to Connect NJ (CtoCNJ), a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan organization, is dedicated to achieving more responsive and efficient government in New Jersey, through advocacy of municipal partnerships and consolidations.
Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect NJ, noted, “this is the third taxpayer group that CtoCNJ has worked with since 2010. The other two commissions dissolved after being formed, because the state never put dollars into those efforts. New Jersey taxpayers deserve better in their quest for property tax relief. This is the reason why CtoCNJ has stepped up to award a grant of $7,500, so the commission can continue its pursuit of combining both towns and schools for the first time in New Jersey.”
The Roxbury/Mount Arlington consolidation project has its roots in a 2010 Roxbury concerned-taxpayer/property-tax-reduction movement called TEAM (Taxpayer Education Association Member). “After meeting Gina and learning about her Courage to Connect NJ mission and seeing her knowledge and commitment to consolidation studies,” TEAM decided to trigger the consolidation process by working to form a consolidation commission conforming to state statute, said Mr. Heard.
“The commission of 16 members formed in 2015, and the body is two years into the consolidation study, thanks to the leadership of Gina and the volunteer efforts or our 16-member board of commissioners. Despite little support from the state, we continue the study during the third year of analysis. We hope to complete our study in 2018,” Commission Chair Heard said.
If the commission votes to recommend a merger, the decision would have to be ratified by a referendum of the voters in each community.
The Courage to Connect NJ presentation to the Roxbury Mt. Arlington Consolidation Study Commission will occur at 7 p.m., Sept. 13, 2017, at the Roxbury Recreation Office, 73 Eyland Avenue, Succasunna, New Jersey
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