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Bill Seeks Tenure Shift for Towns Sharing Services

NJ Statehouse
Flickr User Mark Stradling

A bill pushed by a southern New Jersey Democrat would make it easier for towns to share services without running afoul of tenure restrictions.

Sen. Donald Norcross has proposed the bill, called the “Common Sense Shared Services Act.” It would allow the dismissal of a tenured municipal clerk, chief financial officer, tax collector or tax assessor, if two towns create a shared services agreement for the position.

Municipal clerks get tenure after five years of service. The position is the only one in New Jersey appointed by a city council and not a mayor.

In the Camden County town of Audubon, longtime borough clerk Nancy Doman was fired and replaced with a part-time clerk when Audubon and Magnolia decided to share services. Doman sued and won when a judge ruled her firing violated state tenure rules.

The president of the state Municipal Clerks Association has questioned whether the cost savings is significant enough, and other critics have said Norcross’ bill lacks specifics. But some mayors have said the passage of the bill would give them another way to save money.

Norcross has agreed to add a clause that would give fired tenured employees a two-year window to be hired back if the township reverses course. Michael Drewniak, the spokesman for Gov. Christie, said the administration would look closely at Norcross’ bill.

“The whole idea is to allow government to save money, be more efficient,” Norcross, of Camden County, said. “It’s up to the individual town to decide if it makes sense.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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