Municipal Consolidation Bills Moves to the Senate Floor

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Courage to Connect New Jersey urges the passage of a companion bill in assembly during lame-duck period.

The Senate Committee of Community and Urban Affairs today passed legislation that would simplify the municipal consolidation process, while adding flexibility to the 2007 Local Option Municipal Consolidation law.

It is now hoped that Senate Bill 2679, sponsored by Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Fair Lawn), would go to the floor for a full Senate vote. Meanwhile, a companion bill, Assembly Bill 4099, was introduced in May and now needs to be heard by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

It is hoped the chair of the committee, Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Plainfield), will post A4099 for a committee vote to move it to the Assembly floor before the end of the legislative session, said Gina Genovese, executive director of Courage to Connect New Jersey, a non-profit group that helps citizens and local government through the state-mandated municipal consolidation process.

“The 2007 law is working; New Jersey now has a successful model,” said Genovese, referring to the successful consolidation on January 1 of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough, creating a consolidated town that is expected to save taxpayers $3 million each year.

“New Jersey needs to build on this momentum and make the 2007 law more flexible and provide more options to towns that want to consolidate,” Genovese said.

“There is a real urgency to the passage of this legislation in the Assembly, which will give consolidating towns the flexibility to apportion debt so they can all realize significant property tax savings,” said Loch Arbour Mayor Paul Fernicola.

Loch Arbour and Allenhurst have been working over two years and are close to putting consolidation on the ballot next year.“Our success could very well hinge on the passage of this bill this year,” Fernicola said.

Former Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner, who spearheaded the effort to consolidate the Princetons, noted this year has seen strong momentum in consolidation regarding towns and school districts. “It's important that the state Legislature act to further build on this momentum by making the process easier and the bill sponsored by Senator Gordon does that.”

Gene Paradiso of Mount Arlington, who is a petitioner to form a consolidation study commission with neighboring Roxbury, sent a letter to Green, calling for the bill to be heard in committee in this legislative session.

“On behalf of my fellow residents and myself who put our signatures to a Consolidation Study petition, I would like to respectfully request the consideration of Assembly Bill A4099,” he wrote to Green. “The law increases flexibility, clarity, and available tools in the municipal consolidation process.”

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Andrea Marilyn Garcia
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