PATERSON, NJ – Passaic and Bergen County officials recently held a press conference to announce a shared service agreement that consolidated our Division of Consumer Affairs into one unit within Bergen County’s Department of Public Safety.
The agreement increases efficiencies, saves tax dollars, and provides a higher level of consumer protection for the residents of Passaic County through enforcement of the Consumer Fraud Act. The Division of Consumer Affairs is responsible for ensuring businesses comply with laws and regulations designed to protect consumers from unfair practices.
“Bergen County has one of the best equipped and best trained Consumer Protection Divisions in the state, thanks to our investments into that Division over the last two years,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. “Bergen County officials are often required to cross county lines, such as when businesses move, or when a resident makes a complaint from a store outside Bergen County. This agreement will optimize the efficiency of our Consumer Affairs Division, while saving taxpayer dollars.”
Under this agreement, Bergen County would assume the responsibility of providing the service of the Office of Consumer Affairs to the citizens of Passaic County. In return, Bergen County will receive 75% of all revenues received from fines and penalties. This decision comes on the heels of Bergen County’s investment to their agency, which added new investigators, bringing their total number of investigators to 13, compared to the two employees Passaic County has on staff. As a result of Bergen County’s investment in their Consumer Affairs Division over the last two years, they were able to return $1 million in restitution payments to victims in 2015, compared to $10,000 the year before.
“The Passaic County Freeholders know the importance of shared services,” said Freeholder Director Sandi Lazzara. “Shared Service agreements have the potential to reduce government bureaucracy and red tape, which saves tax payers time and money.”
This new shared service agreement, created under New Jersey’s Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act, is one of many cost saving agreements implemented by Passaic County. This year, Passaic County renewed a shared service agreement with the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center, which saves approximately $10 million a year, along with shared Information Technology services with Woodland Park, the City of Passaic, and the Wanaque school district; Medical Examiner Services with the State of New Jersey as well as Hudson, Somerset, and Essex Counties; Para-Transit Services with West Milford; Vehicle Fuel with the Borough of Pompton Lakes, Pompton Lakes Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA) and Board of Education (BOE), and Prospect Park; as well as a Cooperative Purchasing of Gas and Electric with Hudson and Essex Counties, and all 16 municipalities in Passaic County.
“This new shared services agreement will enhance the already strong partnership we have with Bergen County, and should serve as a model for how government should work,” added Lazzara.