TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator John H. Adler to allow municipalities to share courtroom facilities and support staff but maintain separate judges was unanimously approved by the Senate today.
“New Jersey has more government than we can afford,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “We need to do more to encourage municipalities to share costs whenever possible, but many local officials have been reluctant to give up local control over services. This bill would clear a major obstacle for towns seeking to share court services without giving up their locally-appointed judges.”
The bill, S-335, would amend the current law which governs shared services agreements between municipalities in New Jersey. Under current law, if municipalities agree to share municipal court services, they are bound to also share the judge. This bill would allow municipalities to tailor their shared services agreements in such a way that courtroom administration and facilities may be shared, but each individual municipality still has the authority to maintain its own judge.
“Many local officials believe that shared judges might not represent their own town’s best interests,” said Senator Adler. “However, there are still ways for municipalities to share court services – which means savings for local taxpayers – without giving up local control and input. By allowing towns to maintain local judges but share court administration costs, we are clearing a major hurdle blocking the way to cost savings for many overburdened property taxpayers.”
Senator Adler noted that this bill reflects his continuing efforts to provide cost savings for New Jersey’s taxpayers through rational consolidation and shared services. He added that in addition to coaxing local officials to share services, the State needs to do more to require regionalization agreements which mean lasting relief from soaring property taxes.
“In Governor Corzine’s budget, there is a recognition that we have to do more with less, at all levels of government,” said Senator Adler. “This bill is only a small part of legislative efforts to cut costs and provide for more efficient government. Moving forward, we need to provide greater support and encouragement for municipalities to seek cost savings, and if necessary mandate consolidation, to ensure that the people’s interest, and not the bureaucracy’s interest, is being served by government in New Jersey.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.