Carteret Mayor Daniel J. Reiman (right) and Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac “seal the deal” at the Woodbridge Public Works yard. The two municipalities entered into a shared services agreement whereby Woodbridge will collect Carteret solid waste.
The concept of municipalities sharing services is alive and well in the Middlesex County communities of Woodbridge Township and neighboring Carteret Borough.
In February, Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac and Carteret Mayor Daniel J. Reiman announced an innovative and cost-effective shared services plan whereby the Township of Woodbridge will provide trash collection and disposal services to the Borough of Carteret for a three-year period. The agreement will add $1.8 million dollars to the Woodbridge Township treasury and save Carteret taxpayers nearly $500,000 during the first three years of the contract.
The long-term, interlocal agreement—one of the first and largest of its kind in the state—is geared to maximize the municipal resources of both communities while maintaining the current level of trash collection services to Woodbridge and Carteret residents. At the same time, the shared-service agreement represents a significant step toward maximizing municipal resources by combining public services while continuing to implement efficiencies in public works operations and in the delivery of critical services and programs.
In the wake of the successful agreement to share trash collection services, Mayors McCormac and Reiman are continuing the shared-service dialogue by taking a hard look at identifying areas where their municipalities can continue to cut costs without cutting services and programs. Several areas ripe for Interlocal agreements to share services include joint community library operations and the sheltering and care of abandoned pets and
animals at the newly constructed Woodbridge Township Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center. (Woodbridge Township recently entered into a shared-service agreement with the City of South Amboy to provide kennel services for lost and abandoned animals from South Amboy. Under that shared-service agreement, South Amboy will pay a minimum of $4,000 per year to house abandoned and stray animals at the Woodbridge Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center.)
Shared-services and inter-local agreements with neighboring communities stand as a viable alternative that will help Woodbridge Township and partnering municipalities stabilize taxes at a time when the state is reducing aid to municipalities. New Jersey municipalities are facing difficult financial times which demand innovative and creative solutions. The public demands—and deserves—their trash collected and their neighborhoods clean and free of debris. The agreement with Carteret is a perfect example of what two communities can achieve when they have the same goal and are able to work together, using existing municipal resources to benefit the taxpayers of both communities. This agreement is a win-win for the residents of Carteret and Woodbridge…a win-win for shared services…and a win-win for our environment.
Shared services have become an important element in the ways we’re improving programs for area residents while also reducing the cost of government. Last year Carteret expanded the senior meals on wheels program through Middlesex County to accommodate Woodbridge residents, and we are now completing studies that will potentially enable both towns to share additional resources. This latest partnership with Woodbridge has not only enabled us to improve the efficiency of Carteret’s sanitation services, but will allow us to save our taxpayers close to $500,000 in the first three years of the agreement. It’s a win-win for both communities—trash collection services for Carteret at a reduced price over the private sector.
How does the shared service plan work? As a result of operational
efficiencies established in the Woodbridge Township Department of Public Works, the township was able to implement the shared service program with Carteret. With the implementation of “Route Smart”—a computer-based software program that efficiently plans collection routes to maximize manpower, time on the street, and municipal resources, along with readjusting township-wide recycling collection schedules to Wednesday (instead of a staggered four-day-a-week collection schedule), the Department of Public Works was able to effectively implement the Carteret trash collection program.
The Department of Public Works assigned 12 sanitation employees, four rear-load trash trucks and one front-end load truck to collect and dispose of Carteret’s residential household trash (Type 10 solid waste that includes garbage, refuse and bulk waste.) Woodbridge sanitation crews collect Carteret trash on Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday each week. The collection of Carteret trash does not impact Woodbridge Township’s current trash collection schedule—each Woodbridge community still receives twice-weekly trash pick-up and consolidated curb-side recycling collection every Wednesday.
Additionally, the collection of Carteret’s residential solid waste does not require any increase in Woodbridge Township Public Works staff, vehicles or equipment—the agreement uses existing Public Works resources. And, even more importantly, Woodbridge Township did not have to confront the painful determination to lay-off sanitation workers in the wake of a reduction of more than $500,000 in state aid.
The interlocal agreement to share services not only represents a partnership between the mayors and residents of Woodbridge and Carteret, but the respective Municipal Councils. In moving to maximize the opportunity to consolidate, both the Woodbridge Township Municipal Council and the Carteret Council unanimously approved Resolutions authorizing the shared services agreement during public council meetings in January.
Woodbridge Council President Rick Dalina noted that, “On behalf of the entire Woodbridge Township Municipal Council, we are extremely pleased to secure a shared service agreement with Carteret that benefits the residents of both communities. Our goal as a council is to explore any and all opportunities to share services within the township and with neighboring communities. The agreement with Carteret is a great starting point and serves our commitment to maximize tax dollars and municipal resources.”
A Shared Roadway Yet another effective joint venture between Woodbridge Township and Carteret was the long-awaited opening of the Industrial Highway truck route into Woodbridge. The 1.4 mile extension was approved by the Borough of Carteret and Woodbridge Township as part of the Port Reading Industrial Park Redevelopment project in May of 2004. Mayor McCormac and Mayor Reiman heralded the new roadway as a solution to the excessive truck traffic that has plagued the residential and light commercial areas of Port Reading in Woodbridge Township and Carteret for decades. The extension project has already served to minimize truck traffic through the area, with an estimated 1,200 trucks a day being diverted from Port Reading and Roosevelt Avenues.
Shared services with neighboring communities is not the only economy that has been put in place in Woodbridge Township. In reviewing municipal operations, Mayor McCormac noted that one of the more significant recurring costs was the maintenance, repair and repaving of municipal and school district infrastructure such as streets, parking lots and public areas.
Public Works Consolidation In 2007, Mayor McCormac initiated an overhaul of the Township Department of Public Works, Sanitation & Sewer and the Parks and Recreation Department. The re-tooling resulted in the consolidation of operations and the creation of a “street paving and resurfacing crew.” The strategy of the consolidation produced tangible results in mid-2007, as paving crews from the Department of Public Works began the “in-house” resurfacing and repaving of neighborhood streets, parking lots and public areas at municipal facilities, libraries and school district buildings.
The most significant outgrowth of the Public Works consolidation was the implementation of a shared service agreement with the Board of Education to “mill and pave” school district streets and driveways, parking lots, walkways and recreation areas. Notwithstanding the initial outlay of $529,000 in new and upgraded construction and paving equipment for the Department of Public Works, the joint, shared services program to maintain and resurface school district and township infrastructure is saving taxpayer dollars.
Shared services represent the best, most efficient way to approach rising costs and reductions in funding at a time when municipalities across the state are struggling simply to maintain day-to-day operations.