Consolidation gains traction

From the Courier Post:

Consolidation effort gains
By JONATHAN TAMARI

A plan to create a commission that could recommend town mergers has gained momentum as lawmakers seek ways to streamline government and rein in New Jersey’s property taxes.

The proposal by Sen. Joseph Kyrillos Jr., R-Monmouth, has won support from a legislative panel examining government consolidation and will be one of several ideas up for discussion next week as lawmakers continue their work on property taxes.

Lawmakers have cited New Jersey’s hundreds of municipalities and school districts as a source of tangled bureaucracy that contributes to the state’s high property taxes. But proposed mergers have proved difficult to complete, and forced consolidation is sure to face resistance from towns that don’t want to be told how to operate.

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities argues that consolidation should be voluntary and left to voters. A commission would disenfranchise the public, said William Dressel Jr., the league’s executive director.

“It’s opposition coming from who? From the people. The people who vote, the people who pay the taxes,” Dressel said.

From the Courier Post:

Fire district mergers face hurdles
By JONATHAN TAMARI

Merging fire departments can improve emergency responses and trim waste but faces legal and political hurdles that can make them unwieldy, fire officials told lawmakers Wednesday as part of the Legislature’s effort to trim property taxes.

“A process that looks simple on paper is actually very different for purely political reasons,” said Mayor David Fried of Washington Township, Mercer County. He tried to lead a municipal takeover of fire districts but was rebuffed by firefighters’ opposition.

Jeff Welz, executive director of North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, a collaboration of five municipalities, saw both the advantages and the challenges when his organization formed.

In the past, Welz said, firehouses in one town could not respond immediately to a nearby blaze across municipal lines. The fire had to wait for a company from within the same town, even if they were farther away.

“Our job was to protect life and property, and we were doing it very inefficiently,” Welz said.

He said the five municipalities, North Bergen, Weehawken, West New York, Guttenberg and Union City, now have faster response times, one fire chief, down from five, and common equipment.

This entry was posted in New Jersey Real Estate, Politics, Property Taxes. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Consolidation gains traction

  1. Lindsey says:

    Fire Districts are the single biggest waste of money at any level of government. There is nothing, nothing that they do that can’t be done better and more cheaply by someone else.

    The level of waste that goes on there is worse than any school district administration in existence, and that is really quite a standard to top.

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