May 12, 2011; Source: Daily Record | In New Jersey there are 566 towns. California, by comparison, has only 482 municipalities. An organization called Courage to Connect N.J. believes that the situation is unsustainable in light of the growing financial straits of local governments.
They say too many local governments, and the costs associated with them, drive up property taxes. In response, the group has sent staff out across the state to try to convince clusters of five to ten towns to merge their services and, potentially, their towns.
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Currently, Connect N.J. are working with a grouping that includes two Mendhams, two Chesters, and a Washington Township. Sounds like a relatively good hand. If they were to merge, their population would total 38,870. Says Ken Short, Mayor of Washington Township, “I’d be very much open to discussions . . . If we can save the taxpayers money through consolidation, I would be happy to step down from my elected position and work to make it happen to save people money.”
NPQ has often written that nonprofits can be even more active and powerful on issues of taxation and the economy. This is an interesting, innovative and ambitious project and will be worth watching. —Ruth McCambridge