TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator John H. Adler to allow municipalities to share courtroom facilities and support staff but maintain separate judges was approved by the Assembly yesterday by a vote of 77-0, with 1 abstention, receiving final legislative approval.
“In New Jersey, we have more levels of government than we can afford,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “State government must do more to allow, encourage, and if necessary, mandate shared services and cost savings on the municipal level. Property taxes are just too high, and we must seek more efficiency in how we offer government services – from Governor down to local dog-catcher.”
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 in New Jersey are interested in doing the right thing to keep down the cost of government on overburdened property taxpayers,” said Senator Adler. “But when it comes to municipal courts, these officials are worried that sharing services would mean giving up local control. Through this legislation, officials would be able to cut costs without losing control over their municipal courtrooms.”
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.
“This year more than ever, it’s important for New Jersey’s public leaders at all levels to do more with less,” said Senator Adler. “This bill is part of an ongoing effort to cut local costs and rein in out-of-control government spending. As we continue to struggle with how to pay for government services in New Jersey, we must encourage – and if necessary, force – municipal leaders to adapt to leaner, more efficient government in the Garden State.”
The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.