An increasing number of New Jersey towns have turned to privatizing services that were handled by the public sector for decades.

garbage truck
Garbage collection is one of the services some New Jersey towns are looking to privatize. (Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

Bill Dressel, Executive Director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, cited an uptick in the consideration of privatizing services over the last couple of years.

"Governing body officials are always looking for new ways to try to reduce costs," Dressel said. "It's a viable option for local officials to look at."

Dressel offered the economic downturn and the two percent property tax cap as primary reasons for the move, which can include services from garbage pickup to snow plowing to school staff.

Dressel noted, though, switching from public to private operations is not a simple decision for mayors.

"It's not just whether or not they're going to reduce the costs, but whether or not they can be able to provide the same level of service that they provided previously," Dressel explained.

Municipalities have their taxpaying residents to answer to, and those residents would only welcome changes if the saved costs aren't accompanied by diminished services.

Dressel said most local governments across the state have been at least considering the public-private switch, and there have been mixed results.

"Some have found that privatization is something that they can do to reduce their costs and improve their efficiencies," said Dressel. "In other cases, it may not work."

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