An Inquirer poll this fall showed that New Jersey residents are increasingly in favor of municipal consolidation and shared services. It may not be clear to elected officials attached to “home rule” in a state with 566 municipalities (soon to be 565), but the residents are right.
A year ago, the residents of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, where I’m the mayor, approved the state’s first large municipal consolidation in more than a century – a move expected to save millions and improve services. In fact, we’re already enjoying the benefits.
When Hurricane Sandy struck Princeton, the two municipalities responded in a completely coordinated fashion for the first time. We established an emergency operations center staffed by police, fire, public works, and other staff from both towns.
The police were able to coordinate more effectively in prioritizing coverage of the whole area, while the public works departments marshaled their resources to open important roads more quickly. We launched coordinated communication through social media and reverse 911. This single response was a dramatic improvement over our separate responses to previous storms.
But such improvements aren’t the only rationale for consolidation. We are also on a path to savings that exceed our consolidation commission’s estimates.
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