NEW BRUNSWICK – In yet another example of Middlesex County’s pursuit of shared services agreements to drive down costs, Middlesex County officials announced a planned arrangement with Mercer County for juvenile services.
Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano and Freeholder Deputy Director Ronald G. Rios said that, if approved by the state, juvenile offenders from Mercer County would be housed in the Middlesex County Youth Services Facility in North Brunswick beginning June 1.
Under the planned agreement, Mercer County would close its Youth Detention Center in Ewing Township and pay Middlesex County to house its juvenile offenders, with a guaranteed minimum of 20 individuals per day. The agreement must be authorized by freeholder boards in both counties and approved by the state.
Middlesex County made a similar pact with Monmouth County last year that so far has generated $2.5 million in revenue for Middlesex, as well as with Somerset County more than a decade ago. The terms and conditions of the latest agreement are being finalized.
Middlesex and Mercer began exploring the possibility of sharing youth detention 18 months ago.
“This agreement would take advantage of our efficient, state-of-the-art Youth Services facility, while at the same time lessen the burden on our taxpayers,” said Rios, chair of the Middlesex County’s Law and Public Safety Committee. “Our focus on rehabilitation and education serves young offenders well and helps prepare them for productive lives after they leave the facility.”
“The economic challenges we are all facing now demand that we find new ways to reduce the cost of county government and reduce the tax burden on our residents,” said Rafano. “As a freeholder board, we are committed to working closely with our neighboring counties and with our municipal partners to drive down the cost of government through regionalization and sharing services wherever appropriate. I thank Mercer County for working with us to realize our shared goals.”