The big watchword for the past ten years amongst municipalities has been “shared services”.
Sounds good as a sound bite come election time. A way of getting the public to think their elected folks are saving big bucks by sharing the cost of running their towns with the next town over, under or around them.
So, just who’s benefited from the lion’s share of all this sharing? Apparently not enough communities are sharing.
Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts wants to expand the powers of the LUARC Commission [Local Unit Alignment Reorganization and Consolidation Commission] to nudge more of NJ’s 566 governmental bodies to share more. He wants these Commission folks to nudge local governments to have more merger referendums, so that voters can decide merger for themselves. Sounds like more democracy to me is a good thing.
DCA Commish Joe Doria said of N J’s tiny towns, "We have communities that are the hole of the doughnut…There's no need for those small communities."
“There’s no need for those communities”? "The hole of the doughnut"? Tell that to the fine folks who pay taxes in places like Flemington, Lambertville, or Freehold. They provide municipal services pretty darn efficiently. I prefer to think of those towns as the "nucleus of the cell", a much better analogy.
Of course, this is a guy who was the mayor of Bayonne. Yo, Joe, maybe Bayonne, being at the center of the New York harbor, Staten Island, and Elizabeth wants to merge with those geographical entities. I am so sure that my home town of Flemington was more financially efficient than Bayonne n a per capita basis, that I would bet you a dinner on it. Any fine Flemington restaurant or Bayonne eatery will do.
One thing everyone can agree on: Change the name of that commission. LUARC sounds like a green-headed scaly creature from Star Wars. Or maybe a city on the coast of France, famous for its cheese pastries.
Personally, I like Roberts’ idea to name the commission after the late Assembly Speaker Alan J. Karcher---whose book New Jersey's Multiple Municipal Madness detailed the history of how we got to have 566 different towns in NJ.