MARLBORO — Representatives of 22 Monmouth County municipalities came together for the first official meeting of the Central Jersey Council of Governments (CJCG) on April 7.
Gov. Jon Corzine was present as the local officials signed the council’s ceremonial charter at Marlboro Town Hall. The organization is dedicated to seeking shared services across Monmouth County.
Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik started discussing the possibility of shared services when he took office in January 2008. From that point local agreements were made with Manalapan.
The initiative grew as Marlboro’s Shared Services Committee conducted meetings that gave local officials a chance to come together and discuss their options. As attendance increased so did the possibility of a formal organization.
“It is very important for all the municipalities to be doing everything they can to control costs. This is necessary for longterm control of fiscal, prudent management in our towns,” Hornik said.
He said the CJCG is bipartisan and is attempting to make government more efficient for the residents of Monmouth County and New Jersey.
Corzine commended all of the municipal officials who have come together in the CJCG. He said it is the largest organization of this type in the state.
“I look forward to the great success here and I look forward to working with you,” the governor told the representatives of the involved municipalities.
As the CJCG held its organizational meeting, members were elected to serve on the board. Hornik will serve as president, Manalapan Committeewoman Michelle Roth will serve as vice president, Bradley Beach Mayor Julie Schreck will serve as secretary and Freehold Township Deputy Mayor Anthony Ammiano will serve as treasurer.
State Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth and Mercer) thanked the governor for being supportive of shared services efforts across the state, particularly the movement in Monmouth County.
Manalapan Mayor Richard Klauber noted that the CJCG shows what can happen when people put politics aside to work together to find solutions.
Schreck pointed out that officials and residents in small communities such as Bradley Beach are often afraid they will lose their identity and be swallowed up by larger surrounding towns. She said it was her belief that the desire of such towns to cherish their individuality can sometimes lead them to not participate in an organization such as the CJCG.
“I think it is important to recognize that Mayor Hornik has set such a tone of bipartisanship and fairness and mutual benefit in this organization that I think all the small towns in Monmouth County who are able to participate should be extremely grateful …,” Schreck said.
Schreck thanked Hornik for providing the spark necessary and for pursuing the idea of the CJCG.
Neptune City Mayor Thomas Arnone said this is the way the state should be run, pulling together to share services.
“Smaller municipalities, we know how hard it is, but we also want to keep our identities,” Arnone said, adding that one way to do so is by sharing services.
Corzine said the consolidation of municipalities is not the only answer for small towns and he cited the recent recommendations made by a department that is looking into consolidation and shared services.
“Anything that needs to be done in this area needs to be done on a voluntary basis. Mandates, cram downs, will not work and people need to have a sense that they’re searching for those opportunities together,” Corzine said.
The governor added that based on economic factors, shared services are a must.
“One of these days the tide will turn, our economy will lift and we will be much more efficient,” he said, adding that will be because of communities already using shared services.
Initiatives that are being looked at by the CJCG include sharing public works equipment and employees, as well as regional trash collection, Hornik said.
“I’m confident that our member towns in Monmouth County will lead in the shared services efforts in the state of New Jersey,” the Marlboro mayor said.
Contact Rebecca Morton at firstname.lastname@example.org.