Sunday, August 13, 2006

Is consolidation the answer?

From the Herald/Record:

Not all Jersey towns have it rough

The borough of Bogota in Bergen County is less than a mile square, but the tiny town maintains its own high school, public works, health and building departments and has a police force of 15.

New Jersey, with more municipalities per square mile than any other state, also has the highest property taxes in the nation.

Is there a connection? The governor thinks there is, offering financial incentives to municipalities that consolidate or share government services. But in places like Bogota, the idea is not so well received.

In the town of 8,200 about 15 miles from New York City, Mayor Steve Lonegan says he's compiled data showing unequivocally that "small towns are cheaper to operate than big cities." Bogota's per capita municipal cost is $741, he said, compared with $2,039 in Newark and $1,183 in Bogota's closest neighbor, Teaneck.

Lonegan said because the borough is small, it can be more fiscally responsible than larger cities.
New Jersey is dotted with small towns like Bogota, 566 municipalities in all, along with 616 school districts. Soaring property taxes, which average $6,000 a year, are a perennial top concern among New Jerseyans.
Of all the political thickets lawmakers will navigate in their quest to lower property taxes, none is potentially thornier than the idea of towns and school districts ceding the autonomy of "home rule."

Corzine wants the state to give increased financial aid to municipalities and school districts that merge or share services. This could mean combining municipalities into a larger community, or combining local schools into a regional district. It could also prod governments into simply sharing services as high-profile as a police department or as mundane as a tax assessor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This mayor is dead wrong.

This is what the battle is going
to be about Home Rule.

Only state in the nation like it.

Also, for those who missed it, highest property taxes in the country.

But , were close to NYC.

8/13/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger jayb said...

It certainly sounds like a good idea. I'd recommend it to my city of Garfield cause things here aren't very good.

8/13/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mayor is correct. Any "reform" imposed from the top down, that deals only with structure (means of collecting & spending $) as opposed to philosophy (should we be spending the $ at all) is, at best, a temporary patch on the way to larger & more inefficient political entities (see Suffolk & Nassau Cos.).

BTW, there may be a few here old enough to remember when CT and NJ first imposed income taxes; the stated purpose was to cut the overall tax burden, exactly as touted by consolidation. End effect -- about fifteen minutes of relief followed by decades of ever-increasing taxes.

When it comes to government, I think I'll follow Jefferson, not Corzine.

8/13/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget to mention -- does anyone think that increased state aid will come without (1) increased state control, or (b) additional bureaucracy to administer it?

8/13/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous michaelk said...

In my opinion, after years of listening to his speeches and reading his writings, Lonegan is a nutjob. He seems to think the rules shouldn't apply to him.

Also, the comparison to Teaneck is a bit misleading, since Teaneck has a full-time professional fire deparment while Bogota has a volunteer force. Yes, it is a source of savings, but I don't think it's a valid one.

8/14/2006 04:09:00 PM  

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