At yesterday’s Shared Services Symposium at Drew University for local government leaders, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) joined Gov. Phil Murphy to signal a renewed commitment from the state to help communities further shared services ideas and bring them to completion.
As part of this commitment, DCA is expanding its capacity to provide assistance and direct consulting to local governments that are interested in sharing services so they do not have to spend money on feasibility studies, which are often costly and an impediment to starting the shared services process.
“My administration wants to close the book on the days of the state leaving local governments to figure out shared services on their own with no support from Trenton,” said Governor Phil Murphy, who addressed symposium attendees. “We know that we, as a state, need to be a partner in shared services efforts from the outset in order to increase their likelihood of success.”
The Division of Local Government Services within DCA will return to the work it previously did in the 1990s and early 2000s and provide local governments with models of shared services that show how to save costs by reducing redundancy, generating revenue, standardizing processes, and overcoming implementation challenges.
“As we move into 2019, DCA is focused on rebuilding and restoring the ‘services’ aspects of the Division of Local Government Services to help towns achieve much needed property tax savings,” said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, who also serves as DCA Commissioner. “Providing a reliable resource to help New Jersey’s municipalities thrive is something that the Department prides itself on.”
The renewed commitment by DCA to help local governments achieve shared services agreements is just the latest effort by the Murphy administration on this front. Earlier this month, DCA launched a new web portal: www.nj.gov/sharedservices, which features information about upcoming events, reference materials, and useful links to assist municipalities and counties considering ways to offer essential services and improved service delivery at a reduced cost.
Also, in May, Governor Murphy named Nicolas Platt and Jordan Glatt as shared services “czars” to lead the shared services effort throughout the state. Their selection was based on their extensive business experience and their knowledge of municipal government having previously served as the mayors of Harding Township and Summit, respectively.
Through all of these efforts, DCA is working to get 10 shared services agreements in the works by the middle of 2019.
“One of the things that makes New Jersey so unique is that we are a patchwork quilt of 565 distinct municipalities,” said Governor Murphy. “But, that does not mean we have so much pride that we overlook working with our neighbors to deliver the high-quality services our residents deserve with greater efficiency.”
At the symposium, Platt and Glatt offered the Do’s, Don’ts and How To’s of service sharing that highlighted lessons learned in the past while offering ideas designed to help move the state forward.
“This team is here to support you in getting this done. We’ll make all the resources we have available to help you,” said Shared Services Czars Jordan Glatt and Nic Platt. “Our advice is to start small and build trust with neighboring towns.”
DCA Deputy Commissioner Rob Long and Local Government Services Director Melanie Walter offered the State’s perspective with an overview of the process for formulating agreements and receiving state assistance.
“DCA’s Division of Local Government Services will continue to work hand in hand with any municipalities looking to share services. We have done this successfully in the past and look forward to working with you in these present times,” said DCA Deputy Commissioner Rob Long.
“We look forward to building capacity for shared services and consolidation efforts through data driven planning,” said Director of Local Government Services Melanie Walter. “We can overcome fears and concerns and ensure success by practicing good planning. DCA can help town leaders increase savings while remaining stewards of the public trust.”
The local government participants also discussed various ways they could potentially enter agreements with others in their county.
Established in 1967, DCA offers a wide range of programs and services that respond to issues of public concern including affordable housing production, fire and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery.
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