NOW they’re talkin': News that Teaneck and Bogota think they might be able to merge their police departments should be music to the ears of taxpayers. Bogota Mayor Patrick McHale called it a “no-brainer.” But that, of course, depends on where you sit. For too long, the greedy and the powerful in New Jersey have parked themselves right on top of their brains.
You got your unions, who justifiably fear layoffs. You’ve got your municipal officials, who must figure out the seniority puzzle, as well as how to deal with those cutbacks.
But home rule is what put New Jersey in its property tax mess — $7,000 a year, on average, per homeowner. Consolidation is really the only way out.
Right now, you’re looking at nearly 10,000 elected officials and maybe 500,000 public employees in New Jersey. That includes 651 school superintendent offices for barely 2,400 schools.
Yet there are only 9 million people here, making it the fifth smallest state.
Of our 566 municipalities, 411 cover LESS THAN 2 SQUARE MILES, with fewer than 10,000 residents each.
Of those, 27 have FEWER THAN 1,000 residents EACH — less than you can fit into most condo developments along the Gold Coast.
That’s a huge collection of six-figure salaries, with pensions and other benefits tacked on. Lots of chiefs, deputies, assistants, supers, assistant supers, etc.
Before he was elected, Gov. Chris Christie said he would aggressively pursue sharing services and merging local governments to help pull New Jersey out of $8 billion in structural debt.
Voters in a recent Quinnipiac University poll agreed: use the ax, not the tax. Nearly THREE QUARTERS of them favored mergers to lower property taxes.
That’s a significant increase — 12 percent more — from when the poll asked the same question only three years ago.
Even if you don’t live in Teaneck or Bogota, you should urge their town fathers and mothers to go for it. Encourage them to set an example, to show it can be done.
Save our state.
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