Sharing services can only be successful when both parties have needs that the other can satisfy and is successful when both parties will gain something from the relationship.
It would be hard to find a municipal official who is not aware of the League’s support and encouragement for the use of shared services as one tool to stabilize property taxes. Sharing services can only be successful when both parties have needs that the other can satisfy and is successful when both parties will gain something from the relationship. This symbiotic relationship, as biologists would describe it, is the motivation behind a new service developed by the League, based on a request made by one of its members.
In recent months the League has spent many hours attempting to educate legislators on the processes of interlocal cooperation. While the benefits and process are generally known by all practitioners in the field, these facts are new to many of those governing at the local level. It has also become apparent that some legislators are unfamiliar with the continuing efforts that local officials are making to contain and reduce property taxes. I encourage each of you to educate your state legislators about the many efforts you and your colleagues expend each day in pursuing this objective.
As the result of one such discussion this past November at the League’s Annual Conference in Atlantic City, Candace Gallagher, Administrator of the Borough of Hightstown, suggested that the League consider providing a tool for municipal officials to use as they make their myriad of attempts to stabilize the property tax burden carried by their constituents. She suggested that the League create and manage a place where municipalities can go to list the services that they are looking to consolidate. Making such a public list would allow municipalities to peruse the postings and make connections with others looking to consolidate similar services.
Launching the New Site
Taran Samhammer, NJLM Bureau of Municipal Information Services and Research Coordinator, and Morris Enyeart, the League’s Web Services Provider, worked together in developing such a website. Development of the site began in early December 2006. After several trials, the finished site was launched on February 7. A link to the new “Shared Services Board” can be found on the League’s homepage at www.njslom.org, or accessed directly at www.njlm.org/forum1.
How It Works
On the Shared Services Board municipalities can do several things. Those looking to share the cost of buying or leasing equipment or services may post the item or service desired. Municipalities seeking equipment or services may pursue listings at any time. Providing contact information in postings will allow other municipalities to contact you when interested. When available, municipalities may also include links to related websites or photos in their postings. Posts will remain active for eight months. However, postings may be removed at any time by alerting the League office. Whenever a new posting is made on the board, information will be included in two of the League’s email listserves directing people to view the board. A listing of posting rules and instructions are on the site. However, if additional assistance is needed, you may contact by emial Taran Samhammer or by phone at 609-695-3481, ext. 124.
Benefits of the Board
Usually, sharing services is easiest when it is performed between or among neighbors. However, this is not a necessity. Ocean Township and the Village of Loch Arbour are not contiguous yet they share police services. There are a number of other situations like this around the State of New Jersey. The League’s Shared Services Board makes it possible for municipalities to identify common needs with other municipalities located at significant distances. It gives municipalities the ability to periodically scan the list to find others with similar needs.
The new board will be monitored by its creators, and we hope to see the list change on a daily basis as the number of viewers and posters increases. The success of the Shared Services Board will depend upon League members and how they choose to use it.
Whether you are looking to share materials, equipment or services, the Shared Services Board is the place to go.
So check it out. Post an item you want to share. List any item you need. Seek a service on which you may want to cooperate. Let’s see what this can mean for improving cooperation among municipalities.
Article published in New Jersey Municipalities Magazine, April 2007