The Murphy administration is allocating $10 million to assist municipalities looking to promote and support local shared services and school consolidation studies. The new Local Efficiency Achievement Program (LEAP) will be housed in the Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Local Government Services (DLGS), which is positioned to administer the funding and support municipalities that are serious about achieving cost savings through these endeavors.
“The efforts announced here today enhance our administration’s ability to guide and encourage our state’s diverse communities that are interested in pursuing consolidation and shared services,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “It is our administration’s responsibility to provide these communities a platform from which to pursue efficient growth, achieve smart government, and provide relief to local taxpayers.”
According to Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, “We must do everything we can to allow these communities to thrive without the burden of increased property taxes, and help our middle class families and retirees enjoy the benefits of the stronger and fairer New Jersey our Administration has worked so hard to build.”
Also announced, the Local Assistance Bureau (LAB) within DLGS will operate LEAP, which includes the following three initiatives:
Challenge Grants: $3,150,000 ($150,000 per county)
The LEAP Challenge Grant will allocate funds for compelling projects in each of New Jersey’s twenty-one counties, affording local governments the opportunity to compete for grant funding to support efficiency-generating shared services. Municipalities, local authorities, and counties will be challenged to collaborate on extensive partnerships that produce shared services of significance. To achieve impactful models that have the potential for replication, the grant winners will be determined based on scope of impact, breadth of collaboration, and efficiencies generated.
Implementation Grants: $5,800,000
LEAP will provide Implementation Grants to support costs associated with shared services project completion or transition support. Eligible expenses will be for one-time reimbursable costs, including, but not limited to, new technology and equipment, rebranding, and training. Challenge Grant recipients whose efforts result in a shared service agreement may be eligible to receive Implementation Grant funds without a separate application. In addition, funding will be set-aside to partially support district and county-wide school consolidation studies.
Shared Services Coordinator Fellowship: $1,050,000 ($50,000 per county)
Each county will be eligible to receive a grant to hire a young professional to work as a full time Shared Services Coordinator Fellow within the county to identify shared services opportunities, with benefits provided by the county. During the one-year fellowship, the Fellow will be paired with a senior-level county professional who will serve as a mentor. The Fellowship is partly intended to inspire Fellows to embark on a career in the public sector.
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