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Poll: NJ Not Sold on Town Consolidation [POLL/AUDIO]

Many experts insist that local governments would run more smoothly and property taxes would be reduced if some neighboring towns merged into one. New Jersey residents are not convinced of either claim, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

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“New Jerseyans are not overjoyed at the idea of merging municipal governments,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “Just 45 percent support consolidating their municipal government with that of a neighboring community.”

When Rutgers-Eagleton asked the same question in 2010, 54 percent supported consolidation. In this survey 46 percent oppose the idea of merging, and that is up eight points from four years ago.

“There’s a certain amount of dubiousness over how much more efficient or how better services would be with consolidated government,” Redlawsk said. “Thirty-seven percent think that consolidation would make local government more efficient, but 37 percent also say, ‘Eh, it really wouldn’t change anything.’”

People are more likely to back the notion of consolidation if they were guaranteed it would lower their property taxes, but Redlawsk said no one can truly give that promise with absolute certainty.

“In the real world, I’m not sure anyone would believe it if politicians made that kind of a guarantee,” Redlawsk said. “There’s also some evidence including a recent report by the Bloustein School (of Planning and Public Policy) here at Rutgers that suggests consolidation may not actually cut taxes.”

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