Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Death by Home Rule?



“Home Rule” -- These are two words that have held NJ back for decades.  Ask a Mayor why they can’t share major services; “Home Rule”.  Ask anyone in the state why municipal consolidation will not happen and the response is “Home Rule”.  Why are these two words so effective in stopping change?   

Home Rule is created by 565 arbitrary boundary lines that create an Us vs. Them mentality.  These town lines were created for reasons that we can’t remember and are not relevant today.  Do we want to pay the price for the arbitrary borders that were made over 100 years ago?

Home Rule has forced us into tiny, inefficient towns.  Towns around the state are facing massive sewage, road, water, transportation and infrastructure issues.  Dwindling surpluses leave towns in a precarious condition.  With the 2% cap, numerous state mandates and stagnant state funding, our local governments have little real control.

Home Rule forces us to address these issues piecemeal.  The problems facing NJ and municipalities cannot be addressed by 565 mostly weak and small governments competing against each other for diminishing resources. 

Home Rule – Two words that continue the escalation of property taxes, weaken our ability to address our aging infrastructure and stifle innovation.  These two words prevent finding any regional approaches to our problems.  These two words complicate economic development and make it hard for businesses to do business in New Jersey.

What other two words could open the door to possibilities?  “Better Together” (It’s a great book by the way.)  Together we can create larger, stronger local governments.  We can use the savings from consolidation and regionalization to pay for infrastructure improvements, make transportation issues easier and reduce the number of people in our stressed pension system.

If we come together, we will have options available.  We can use innovation to solve problems and create a sustainable future.

Home Rule or Better Together?  Which two words do you choose?

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