TRENTON: Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney has unveiled shared services legislation designed to save taxpayer money by eliminating government redundancies.
In addition, the legislation would create concrete fiscal consequences for local government entities that refuse to enter into sharing agreements that could help their property taxpayers.
“The taxpayers of New Jersey simply can’t handle their property tax burden anymore. Residents demand greater government efficiency and greater savings,” said Sweeney in a release.
The legislation would require New Jersey’s Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) to study local government units (county government, municipal government, school districts) 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, the question of whether to do so or not would be put to a public referendum in all municipalities involved. If the towns involved fail to pass or refuse to implement it in 14 months, 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.
“Shared services shouldn’t just be relegated to talk between towns, but must also take place among counties and school districts,” said Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt, (D-6), Camden, who will sponsor the bill in the Assembly.
“Residents hear every day about how their communities could share with another and may simply assume officials are making the right choices to put those ideas into action. This plan will ensure that taxpayer expectations are actually met,” Lampitt said in a release.
Civil service rules would be suspended for employees affected by any shared services that are implemented, according to the legislation. This would address a concern raised by local government leaders that civil service rules serve as a barrier to sharing services, according to Sweeney. In putting together the legislation, Sweeney met with numerous local elected officials for their input.