Long-debated legislation that aims to remove barriers to local shared services has been approved by the Assembly Budget Committee.

The legislation would ensure that municipalities are able to streamline positions, including certain positions held by employees with tenure, in order to carry out a shared services agreement meant to lower costs.

Dubbed the “Common Sense Shared Services Act,” the bill would revise current law to provide that a municipal clerk, chief financial officer, assessor, tax collector, public works manager, or municipal treasurer that has tenure may be removed to implement a shared service agreement.

The bill was passed by the full Senate last year, and will now be considered by the full Assembly.

“As written, our state laws effectively prevent some municipalities from sharing services by prohibiting the elimination of certain employees if they are tenured, even if the position they serve in is no longer necessary,” said Sen. Donald Norcross. “This measure would update our laws to remove impediments to service sharing, allowing towns and cities to take the action that is necessary to provide taxpayers with more efficient and less-costly government services.”

The legislation stems from a situation in Audubon in which the municipality formed a shared services agreement with the neighboring borough of Magnolia and removed its tenured municipal clerk as part of the process. The official sued the town to get her job back and won. As a result, Audubon was required to rehire the clerk.