ROXBURY, NJ - With state funding for an independent study secured, the commission analyzing a possible merger of Roxbury and Mount Arlington expects to gather enough data to outline, within the next few months, the municipal departments best suited for consolidation.
Since receiving state backing this spring to fund the independent study, the Roxbury-Mount Arlington Consolidation Study Commission has been working closely with state agencies and filing records requests with the two towns to extract the data needed to make the necessary cost comparisons, said commissioner Craig Heard.
“If I had to target it, I would say by the end of August [we’ll] have all the information we need and then in September and October, November, [we’ll] put together the analysis, the comparisons of the two townships, and then do a study as to where we would feel the savings could be,” said Heard, of Succasunna.
The overall goal, Heard said, is to have a base model by the end of the year comparing expenses broken down into categories to reveal which areas could benefit most from consolidation. Some of those areas include education, police, fire and emergency services, government and finance.
The commission met July 12 and determined which documents would be among the last it needs to obtain from the Roxbury and Mount Arlington before the consolidation analysis could begin. The Open Public Records Act requests often needed to acquire those documents take about 14 to 30 days to process.
The documents, once received, would be sent to Christine Caruso, the deputy director of local government services for the state. Her team will do similar “parallel analysis” with the consolidation committee’s data to evaluate the base model the committee creates, Heard said.
Months of data collection may seem like a lengthy period, but consolidating would be an important decision that requires everyone to treat it with due diligence, he stressed. “It’s got to be done very carefully, and essentially it’s got to make sure we’re not missing anything,” Heard said.
Earlier this year, Heard testified before state Senate and Assembly budget committees, complaining – in part – that the state was balking on providing the commission money to hire a consultant. The state responded several days later and said it would provide the funding.