Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney unveiled shared services legislation that would result in taxpayer savings through the elimination of government redundancies, while creating concrete fiscal consequences for local government entities that refuse to enter into sharing agreements that could help their property taxpayers.
The legislation would require New Jersey’s Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) to study local government units (county government, municipal government, school districts) to determine where taxpayer dollars could be saved through sharing of services. If the study shows that a savings can be realized through sharing that service in one or more local governments, the question of whether to do so or not would be put to a public referendum in all municipalities involved. If the towns involved fail to pass or refuse to implement it in 14 months, they would be subject to losing state aid in the amount equal to what they would have saved had they shared the service. If one town approves it but another denies it, only the town that denied it would lose aid.
Shared services reform is the third in a series of comprehensive reforms Senate President Sweeney has proposed over the past two months. In January, he introduced legislation to reform the state’s broken pension system and unveiled legislation to reform public employee health benefits in February. Along with this new legislation, Senate President Sweeney’s reforms would result in hundreds of millions of dollars in savings to New Jersey taxpayers, allow local officials to rein in property taxes, and implement measures that are fair to lower and middle income workers.
Civil service rules would be suspended for employees impacted by any shared services that are implemented. This would address a concern raised by local government leaders that civil service rules serve as a barrier to sharing services. In putting together the legislation, Senator President Sweeney met with numerous local elected officials who provided valuable input on the issue of shared services.