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Jersey Mayors Want More Shared Service Help [AUDIO]

Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media

When Governor Christie delivers his State of the State address tomorrow, Mayors across Jersey will be hoping he includes some positive news about enacting civil service reforms that will let local officials better hold the line on costs – and property taxes. Bill Dressel, the Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, says “what we have repeatedly been told by the Legislature and various Governors over the past few decades is that there should be more incentives to provide sharing of services -and that the various impediments to providing successful sharing of services should be removed by the state.”

He says first and foremost, what needs to change are civil service regulations – because “if you’re getting involved with your neighboring town or school district or County government, and one is non-civil service, and the other is civil service, that is a tremendous hurdle that you have to overcome in order to be able to marry up with that other jurisdiction…there have been some attempts to amend that – those statutes – but nothing has really passed at this particular point.”

Dress points out “the onerous regulations that are imposed by the Department of Personnel – that’s a state Agency – onto local governments – are unbelievable…private sector employers would not be able to survive if they had to get the approval of a state agency to transfer employees from one department to another department…in these times of fiscal distress, Mayors and governing body officials are looking at any way to try to reduce the costs and increase efficiencies…God knows, we can’t rely on Trenton to provide additional property tax relief.”

He adds “it’s very encouraging that Senate President Sweeney is working on a bill to amend civil service regulations, and we are in fact working with him to fine-tune that initiative to make sure that it is in fact able to provide the kind of streamlined process that is necessary in order to remove a lot of the civil service impediments – we think Senator Sweeney is on the right track – he’s going in the right direction.”

Dressel says in addition to loosening civil service regulations, Trenton also needs to look at the energy tax receipts that municipalities have relieved on – there has been a diversion of those dollars – that are paid on your electric bill.

“The energy tax – it’s paid to the state” he says, ” traditionally the money was returned to the municipalities – but the state keeps taking a larger percentage of those dollars the last couple of years …the time has come for them to return those dollars back to help provide an alternate revenue source – other than the property tax.”

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