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Another Push for Shared Services in NJ [AUDIO]

Local and state officials discussed the reintroduction of legislation that would commission a study involving shared services throughout New Jersey.

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NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney
State Sen. Pres. Steve Sweeney (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

For years, state Sen. Pres. Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) has been pushing legislation that would force towns to share services if it makes sense and lowers their cost. He said municipalities should face consequences if they refuse, and he has reintroduced his bill. Local officials and other state legislators offered their thoughts on the topic Wednesday at the state League of Municipalities’ annual Mayors’ Legislative Day.

“We’d like the senator to kind of tweak that bill a little bit and put a little more carrot in there, and put out there more reasons why we should be doing this and giving us, quite frankly more credit for what we have done,” said Hope mayor Tim McDonough.

The legislation reintroduced by Sweeney calls for a commission to study sharing services. If the panel decides it would save taxpayers money, the towns involved would put the idea to a vote. If they still refuse to share services the municipalities would risk losing state aid equal to the amount that would have been saved.

“The frustration is, there was a carrot,” Sweeney said. “No one took them. The incentive, honestly, should be to save people money. This isn’t punishing anyone. It’s protecting and promoting and helping taxpayers.”

Before making his comments, McDonough asked every mayor in the room to raise their hand if they are already sharing services. The overwhelming majority of them put up a hand. Sweeney said his bill doesn’t apply to any town that is already sharing at least one service.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) supports the concept of Sweeney’s bill and said he will work with him. Sen. Sam Thompson (R-Old Bridge) said he wholeheartedly backs the legislation, but Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Whippany) said she does not like the idea of withholding state aid.

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