From the APP:
Gov. Chris Christie threw state support behind the successful effort to consolidate the Princetons into one town, but said he is not sure how many more town mergers are in the forecast.
“This has been an effort in the works since 1953,” Christie said of the merger of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough, which is expected to be complete within a year and will reduce the number of New Jersey municipalities to 565.
“In New Jersey, as you know, it’s slow and steady. We eventually got there,” he said.
Christie held a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Princeton Public Library, here in the borough, taking a victory lap two weeks after residents of the two towns approved a merger referendum.
A study commission said combining the governments would save more than $3.2 million mostly through elimination of redundant administration and services. Christie sweetened the pot with a proposal for the state to pay for first-year consolidation costs and allowing towns to spread other transition costs over five years.
There had been three failed previous efforts to consolidate the Princetons, most recently in 1996.
Christie, accompanied by Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner and Princeton Borough Council President Kevin Wilkes, told an audience of 150 people that merging towns is one way to achieve local government savings and “challenge the status quo.’’
But consolidation is not for everybody, Christie said, and added that it can be encouraged by the state, but should not be mandated.
“I think locally driven discussions are the only way to do it,” he said. “It’s a contentious and emotional issue for some and also a complicated one.”
Currently, there is little other formal movement toward connecting towns aside from proposed unions of tiny Merchantville and larger Cherry Hill, and of Scotch Plains and Fanwood.