Now it's reported that State House leaders are preparing to push more aggressively for shared services or consolidation. Under proposals in the works, incentive grants will be increased, but towns or schools that don't combine their policing, garbage pickup or other functions when they obviously should may be punished by cuts in state aid. "It clearly needs some more carrots, but it may also take a stick," says Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, D-Brooklawn, who is drafting a package of bills on the subject. Property taxpayers are carrying a heavy burden for "the immense redundancy we have" in local government, Speaker Roberts said. Gov. Jon Corzine suggests that he'll support some judicious use of the stick, as well. "I've actually been told, `Don't touch . It's life or death for you,"' the governor said at a shared-services seminar in Teaneck. "After looking at the budget, I might as well touch it."
It is just plain sad that it has to come down to state threats and lawsuits to put a pin in the holy "Home Rule" in Our Fair State, at the same time that municipalities are bracing themselves for lowered aid money from the state.
As we've been reminded before (see comments here,) "the devil is in the details." Not all consolidations are appropriate or fiscally sound. However, I for one strongly support more agressive measures by the state to encourage consolidation, including aid cuts- at least for municipalities who refuse to even consider or investigate consolidation of services as a method to lower expenses.
(cross-posted at BlueJersey.net)