Government

"Hey New Jersey, Follow the Law," says Roxbury-Mt. Arlington Consolidation Panel Chief

Craig Heard testifies before state legislators, urging them to comply with law relating to municipal consolidation efforts Credits: Craig Heard

ROXBURY,  NJ – The state pulled a bait-and-switch when it comes to encouraging studies about consolidation of municipal services, says Craig Heard, the chairman of Roxbury-Mount Arlington Consolidation Study.

The Succasunna resident went to Trenton last week and testified before state Senate and Assembly budget committees, urging them to comply with provisions of the law designed to help commissions like the Roxbury-Mt. Arlington group do their work.

Heard asked the legislators to force the state Department of Education (DOE) and the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to provide his commission  objective studies about the pros and cons of consolidating Roxbury and Mount Arlington. These studies are required under the state Municipal Consolidation Act, he said.

Sign Up for E-News

Heard also urged the state Assemblymen and Senators to follow another provision that requires the state to help the commissions pay for an outside consultant to review their preliminary findings.

Heard said he’s been told that the DOE and DCA do not have the manpower to work on the studies. He also said he's learned the state spent the money it had earmarked to fund the commission’s consultant.

The Roxbury-Mt. Arlington commission will need that money – probably about $40,000 - in nine or ten months, said Heard, noting the funds, and the DCA and DOE studies, are guaranteed under state law.

If the commission subsequently decides a merger is warranted, the question would be placed on a ballot for the voters of each municipality to approve or reject.

“This grassroots effort to do the study, started in 2012, was approved by receiving the necessary votes from Roxbury and Mount Arlington residents,” Heard told the legislators, according to a statement. “It’s a delicate process but any time you can lower property taxes and streamline a town’s fiscal management then it is well worth the effort.”

Heard, who is running for Congress in the GOP primary, testified before the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee.

He along with members of taxpayer groups in both Roxbury Mount Arlington, spearheaded the creation of the Consolidation Study Commission four years ago. “I have always been a strong advocate and fighter for accountability and efficiency in government,” Heard said. “It’s something we desperately need at all levels of government.”

Heard told the legislators that the original Local Option Municipal Consolidation Law signed by former Gov. Jon Corzine was later amended by Gov. Chris Christie to include the grassroots citizen initiative used by the Mount Arlington-Roxbury group. But Christie, said Heard, “has provided no funding since being in office.”

He said the purpose of the  law “was to encourage local townships to consider a merger study in total or for shared services to reduce property taxes, as New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the United States.”

Heard noted the Roxbury-Mt. Arlington effort is the first grassroots municipal consolidation initiative in the state.

“We feel we should be granted assistance in funding, as provided by Governor Corzine, and securing the reports guaranteed under the statue,” Heard testified. “After a year of the commission meetings we have consistently been told the funds are not available and the agencies do not have the staffing to complete the detailed study required under the law. If I may respectfully ask; Why was the law sponsored and put into effect if the Legislature cannot provide the funding and the DOE and DCA cannot provide the study reports guaranteed?”

Heard said he suggested that the state consider amending the law to make it a “matching funds” arrangement in which municipalities, for which consolidation is being considered, have to come up with money toward the consultant’s fee before the state will match their funds. While making no commitments, some of the legislators said they liked that idea, said Heard.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Roxbury

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_340c04d4266255dc688b_img_0677

Fri, July 21, 6:30 PM

Saint Therese R. C. Church, Succasunna

Saint Therese R. C. Church Cardboard City

Giving Back

Carousel_image_41a2b0f029bbd20d0f72_rave-on-555x268

Fri, July 21, 7:00 PM

Horseshoe Lake bandshell, Succasunna

Free Concert Summer Series: Rave On!

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_e90dc6480a66121afc08_812b017bb3ea709dc112_men_elite

Sat, July 22

Horseshoe Lake fields, Succasaunna

Rugby "Blazing 7's (HS/men & women) Tournament

Sports

Cat looking for a Home...Can you help Oreo?

July 17, 2017

Can anyone help Oreo?

Oreo is a super sweet cat. She was surrendered to the Randolph Animal Shelter when her owners moved.  It is so sad they just discarded her.  Oreo is used to living in a home as an only cat.  She is not used to being in a shelter and is struggling.  Won’t somebody adopt her?   

Not sure about adopting?  You can ...

Sen. Vitale’s S-1285 Will Not Reduce Health Care Costs

June 29, 2017

Sen. Joseph Vitale and his supporters have promised our citizens substantial cost savings if his out-of-network bill, S-1285, becomes law.  He claims that by restricting how much emergency and trauma specialists get paid for saving human lives, New Jersey can save up to a billion dollars a year.

The entire medical profession in New Jersey, including our hospitals, opposes this legislation ...

Morris Habitat for Humanity Accepting Applications for Affordable Housing

July 21, 2017

Applications are now being accepted for one single family home to be renovated on Sussex Avenue in Andover Township, New Jersey.  Once completed, the home will be sold as affordable homeownership to the selected applicant. The sales price will be $110,000 for a low income applicant and $140,000 for a moderate income applicant.

The home will feature 4 bedrooms and 2 baths.  The home ...

Atlantic Health System Named a Best Workplace in New York Region

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Atlantic Health System, a leading provider of health care in New Jersey, today announced it was named to the Great Place to Work® and Fortune’s inaugural list of Best Workplaces in New York.

Atlantic Health System ranked 6th on the list, and was the only New Jersey-based health care system to be highlighted in the New York Metropolitan region.

The new recognition ...

Roxbury Diner: Homespun Hospitality Through Thick and Thin

ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury was being buried in snow March 14 and most businesses were closed. Not Roxbury Diner.

Roxbury Diner isn’t like most businesses.For co-owner Jimmy Dontas, a snowstorm – even a blizzard – isn’t a reason to suspend operations. Instead, it’s a call to action.

To many in town, Roxbury Diner – a TAPinto Roxbury sponsor – is ...