Bill Aiming at Forceful Municipal Consolidation Is a Trojan Horse

Bill offers N.J. towns a choice: Share services or lose equivalent state aid |

Senator Sweeney, the main sponsor of S2, is right in that government overall is taking too much money from the people. Where he misses the bus is in the remedy he proposes: Nothing less than taking away state aid to towns – that is out money – if taxpayers refuse to consolidate services at a local level – that is an euphemism for reducing services and laying off workers while keeping all the political bureaucracy untouched.

To top this inequity of a legislative bill, the senator proposes to eliminate Civil Service Law in municipal services – that is the same as creating the most welcoming atmosphere possible for political patronage and nepotism.

Municipal consolidation should never be forced upon the public and what happens when two towns merge under the current property tax-propelled system of government is that one municipality ends up paying for services benefiting the other.

On the other hand, in a political system based on income tax alone, where towns’ budgets are provided by the state income tax and are proportional to population, town A with budget X merges with town B, having budget Y, and the following year the new town AB receives budget X+Y. The income tax based system facilitates mergers but does not impose such on any municipality. It just makes merging desirable because any savings would be extra cash that the new AB municipality would have available.

Where we must move to reduce government first is in the redundant layers of it. I have identified as such county governments, local and county boards of education, and a large proportion of independent authorities and commissions.

Civil Service should never be gutted because it is the best guarantee that: 1. Public employment will be open to all the people; 2. Examinations will tend to identify the most qualified applicants; and 3. Once politicians can not place their friends and relatives in public jobs, they will only create positions when they are really needed.

Sweeney’s’ move is nothing but a desperate attempt to save the political class while merging the municipal workers, with possible layoffs, and eliminating civil service to create more patronage positions. I believe this act is caused in part by my agenda of reforming government and Sweeney knows that 2013 is getting closer. The bill puts all the squeeze on the people and services and leaves the useless part of government intact. That is the modus operandi of both republicans and democrats: Always protecting the political hacks at the expense of teachers, cops, firemen, maintenance workers, etc.

From here to November 2013 we will see the most spectacular proposals from the two parties in power, trying to save their loot and their perks. The political establishment will be very eager to attempt to confuse the public and to preempt the structural reforms I propose .