ASSEMBLY, No. 4164

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 5, 2015

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  ROBERT AUTH

District 39 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblywoman  NANCY F. MUNOZ

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Concerns county government dissolution.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act requiring the “Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission” to recommend a process for the dissolution of county government.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    The Legislature finds and declares:

     a.    Many of the traditional functions of county government have been assumed by other local units and the State in recent decades.

     b.    As has been demonstrated by Connecticut and Rhode Island, neither of which have county government, and also by Massachusetts, where most county governments have been abolished since the 1990s, all of the functions of county government can be performed by the State, municipalities, or other local units.

     c.    Many of the functions of county government are redundant and duplicative of the functions of other local units, and the State, resulting in an unnecessary and costly governmental layer that is no longer relevant to the taxpayers of this State.

     d.    Abolishing county government and transferring its functions to other local units and the State, would reduce the property tax burden of New Jersey residents.

     e.    Any approach to abolishing county government will inevitably address challenging issues, such as how to most fairly allocate county property, debt, and service responsibilities, and will impact numerous stakeholders who should be offered a substantial opportunity to discuss their perspectives.

     f.     Determining the most appropriate approach to dissolve county government for the purpose of reducing the property tax burden will be a complex task that should involve a careful, deliberative process, in which the individuals most recognized for expertise on the functions of government in New Jersey at the State, county, and municipal levels, should be closely involved.

 

     2.    a.  The “Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission,” established pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2007, c.54 (C.52:27D-503), shall study and report on the structure and functions of county government, including services provided and the funding sources for those services, the statutory bases for the services provided and funding sources, the current relationship between the county, other local governments and the State, the most appropriate reallocation of county service delivery responsibilities from the standpoint of efficiency, and the most efficient process and timeline for the dissolution of county government. 

     b.    The commission shall produce a report and recommend specific legislative changes that would abolish county government, and allow for more efficient local government operation in the process. 

     c.    Within 18 months following the effective date of this act, the commission shall submit its report and legislative recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, and the Minority Leader of the General Assembly pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1).  The report and legislative recommendations shall also be available to the public through the State’s Internet website.

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires the “Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission” to study and produce a report, together with specific legislative recommendations to establish a process for the dissolution of county government in New Jersey. 

     As has been demonstrated by Connecticut and Rhode Island, neither of which have county government, and also by Massachusetts, where most county governments have been abolished since the 1990s, all of the functions of county government can be performed by the State, municipalities, or other local units.  Many of the functions of county government are redundant and duplicative.  This results in an unnecessary and costly governmental layer that is no longer necessary for the taxpayers of this State.

     Determining the most appropriate approach to abolish county government for the purpose of reducing the property tax burden will be a complex task.  This challenge should involve a careful, deliberative process, in which the individuals most recognized for expertise on the functions of government in New Jersey at the State, county, and municipal levels, should be closely involved.

     This bill requires the “Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission,” established pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2007, c.54 (C.52:27D-503), to study and report on the structure, functions and funding sources of county government, the current relationship between the county and other units of government, the most appropriate approach to reallocating county debt and service responsibilities, and the most efficient process and timeline for the dissolution of county government. 

     The bill requires the commission to produce a report, and recommend specific legislative changes that would abolish county government and allow for more efficient local government operation in the process.  Within 18 months following the bill’s effective date, the commission would submit its report and legislative recommendations to the Governor, the Legislature, and the public.