Could this website help municipalities lower property taxes?
Looking to encourage towns to become partners and share services in order to lower property taxes, the state of New Jersey has launched a new web portal on its website for local leaders.
Mayors and elected officials in all 565 municipalities can go to www.nj.gov/sharedservices to get information about how they might share services with nearby towns.
Former Harding Mayor Nick Platt, recently named as one of two shared services “czars,” said his new job is “to get the 565 municipalities to start thinking about sharing services in order to bring down their municipal costs.”
He said the web portal “is a compendium of other shared services that municipalities have been doing over the years.”
The web portal, which can also be viewed by regular citizens, offers a variety of material, including links to best practices, feasibility studies, shared-service agreements, reference guides and municipal consolidation laws.
The portable provides examples of shared services by municipal courts, IT and construction offices. Platt said this shared services effort is not focusing on schools, policing and fire, the three biggest cost drivers.
“It’s showing other mayors and elected officials what other towns have done. They’re not going to have to reinvent the wheel," he said.
Platt said this is important because local officials cannot afford to pay for a study to figure out if a shared service plan would actually wind up saving them money in the long run, so this gives them a practical way to see what other towns have done and what the results have been.
He said when he was mayor he worked with four towns to create a joint municipal court, which is now saving hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for each of the municipalities.
He and the other shared services czar, former Summit mayor Jordan Glatt, are traveling the state, discussing shared service ideas at municipal meetings. But he says they never talk about two things: consolidation and merger.
“Because far be it for us to go into a town and tell an elected official how to save money," he said.
Six months ago Gov. Murphy named Platt and Glatt as joint shared services czars for New Jersey.