To the Editor:
At their Nov. 29 meeting, the all-Republican Bridgewater council took an alarming stance against saving Bridgewater taxpayers' dollars through a sensible shared services agreement with Somerville. The majority vote essentially undid efforts to create a shared municipal court system which would have netted a total tax savings if $73,000—with specifically $47,000 for Bridgewater.
The proposal followed the state's model for sharing courts, with each retaining its separate identity, but sharing personnel, space and records storage. Bridgewater would continue to conduct court in the same manner—with no slowdown in service to residents.
Although the savings may seem minimal in comparison to our approximate $38.5 million budget, striking down this measure shows a failure of commitment by our elected officials to work towards common sense reductions in our municipal budget. With a shrinking economy and tighter budgets at all levels of government, public officials have been scrambling the last few years to find areas to help alleviate the tax burden on residents.
Our council was fortunate enough to identify an opportunity to save money, however, they failed to accept this common sense initiative.
Failure to accept such practical shared services is what has recently caused our State Senate to pass a bipartisan bill to penalize towns that refuse to share municipal services with their neighbors. In introducing this legislation, Senate President Sweeney summed it up best, "If governments don't wish to run their towns more cost-effectively, there is no reason the taxpayers of New Jersey should have to foot the bill."
I simply ask, why should the taxpayers of Bridgewater have to pay for the failure of the council to manage our town as efficiently as possible?