Thursday, March 13, 2014

Municipal Consolidation Study

Citizens representing Roxbury and Mount Arlington submitted nearly 400 signed petitions in 2013 to clerks in both municipalities calling for a municipal consolidation study commission.
The petitions were certified, allowing the citizens’ group to form the consolidation commission, comprising five residents of each town. The commission will be meeting to study the pros and cons of merging the towns, and if the issue should go before voters of both communities.
The process, which follows the Municipal Consolidation Act of 2007, is similar to what is now taking place in Scotch Plains and Fanwood, which formed their consolidation commission in early 2013 in partnership with local elected officials.
“This is another example of local citizens working under state law to promote change,” explained Gina Genovese, executive director, Courage to Connect New Jersey, which is assisting the citizens’ group through the process. “The group of petitioners in Mount Arlington and Roxbury are making history for their hometowns, calling for an analysis to see if the two towns are better together.”
In Roxbury, the effort was put together by the Roxbury Taxpayers’ Education Association (Roxbury TEAM). In Mount Arlington, the effort was driven by former Councilman Gene Paradiso, a current school board member who joined a group to merge the towns in the 1990s, before the Municipal Consolidation Act of 2007 was adopted.
The effort to gather petition signatures began October 2012, with residents from both towns meeting to discuss the petition process.
Roxbury and Mount Arlington are not the first to pursue this initiative. Princeton Borough and Princeton Township conducted the study in 2011, and consolidated on January 1, 2013. The merged town has more than $3 million in tax savings and has received positive feedback from residents.