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Old 02-21-2015, 08:55 PM
 
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NJ has a pattern where there's large municipalities with a lot of poor people, and small municipalities with fewer much wealthier people. And all the municipal governments are more or less corrupt. Thus, people calling for municipal consolidation are usually looking for the wealthy areas to be the piggybanks for the poor ones, since consolidation will leave the wealthy people outvoted. That's really not going to solve anything.
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ALackOfCreativity View Post
In NJ, and maybe it's different where you're from with a handful of exceptions almost everyone who talks about merging school districts or towns while claiming to seek savings doesn't actually care about that but is really trying to forcibly absorb towns with better schools or tax bases into towns with much worse ones. On the flip side, people who actually care about savings mainly talk about shared services, but even then in a subdued manner due to the chilling effect of the first group of people -- not worth trying to split costs if it comes at a risk of an unwelcome neighbor trying to sue their way in, you pay more in legal costs than you save and then have the small but catastrophic possibility of losing in court, so nothing at all gets done even though there are obvious and simple ways to save a bit of cash left in plain sight on the table.

Provincialism is also a thing. There's a town called Guttenberg down in Hudson county NJ which is pretty indistinguishable from its neighbors, is literally three blocks wide, has a ~3% tax burden and horrible parking situation due to its size, and doesn't want to merge with its neighbors not out of economic or scholastic differences (it's similar to both) but purely to preserve the local identity (and jobs for the local politicians and municipal employees, but that goes without saying) . It's more than a little silly, but what can you do if that's what the local voters want it's what they want.
There are a couple of good reasons for consolidation. The first is shared service savings, although as you mentioned, budgets tend to balloon to offset the cost savings. Still, on average you'd expect better services for the same budget as before (more cops might offset some of the back office reduction, for example). The other reason, which IMO, is probably more important is that when areas "go bad", it helps to have one part of town doing reasonably well to offset the shortcomings and the reduction in tax base in the other. If a city is large enough, there is at least some hope of a turnaround/stabilization in this scenario.

In St. Louis, we have a ridiculous number of small municipalities. They're perfectly fine as long as they maintain their middle class status. Communities that very comfortably fall within middle class (probably borderline upper middle) have very little need for extensive services like police. If the neighborhood is less than 30 years old, there isn't much in the way of infrastructure costs either. At this point in time, these communities can get away with low tax/high standard of living. What we've seen here is that as these communities age, they destabilize very quickly. Housing preferences change and people move out. Infrastructure ages. Lower income moves in as higher income moves out. Because these areas are so small (many of them with maybe 500 residents), what ends up happening is that it all happens at once. The neighborhood was built at the same time, so all housing fall out of fashion at the same time, all the infrastructure needs to be replaced at the same time. All the first time buyers are roughly the same age and start moving out for retirement centers/dying in quick succession. Once these areas go bad, they are in a figurative death spiral. There is no commercial tax base. There is no other side of town doing better. Just some housing and roads in need of repair that people with means wouldn't touch.
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:24 PM
46H
 
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There are areas of NJ that would benefit greatly from consolidation. In northern Bergen Cty you have a new town of 7000-10,000 every 2-3 miles. That means a new school system with all the administration duplicated every few miles. It also means a police chief and multiple officers and a police station every 2-3 miles. It also means less buying power and negotiating ability for reducing costs. Some of the towns have managed to regionalize high schools. All the schools and police forces should be regionalized.

Sadly, it will never happen in our lifetime.
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Old 02-24-2015, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Originally Posted by 46H View Post
There are areas of NJ that would benefit greatly from consolidation. In northern Bergen Cty you have a new town of 7000-10,000 every 2-3 miles. That means a new school system with all the administration duplicated every few miles. It also means a police chief and multiple officers and a police station every 2-3 miles. It also means less buying power and negotiating ability for reducing costs. Some of the towns have managed to regionalize high schools. All the schools and police forces should be regionalized.

Sadly, it will never happen in our lifetime.
All the small towns and lack of any big city in NJ always baffled me. I get why the state is the way it is from what people in New Jersey has told me, but it never made any sense. Hudson/Bergen County should all be one big city instead of a bunch of small towns.
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Old 02-24-2015, 06:32 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
All the small towns and lack of any big city in NJ always baffled me. I get why the state is the way it is from what people in New Jersey has told me, but it never made any sense. Hudson/Bergen County should all be one big city instead of a bunch of small towns.
Newark and Jersey City are both large cities, populations of over 200,000 each and in the top 100.
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Old 02-24-2015, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Originally Posted by I_Like_Spam View Post
Newark and Jersey City are both large cities, populations of over 200,000 each and in the top 100.
True, but even at that population, I would still consider both to be fairly small cities, especially when you look at the population of New Jersey. Plus, as much as I like the skyline of Jersey City, it is more or less a borough of NYC than it is its own city. Newark is more of an independent city from NYC. And neither is a Philadelphia, Boston, or even a Baltimore size city.
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Old 02-24-2015, 07:52 PM
 
Location: On the Great South Bay
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Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
I've been saying this for years on here, but I believe that many Northern areas could benefit greatly from consolidation of governments. Plain and simple, as it could help lessen the tax burden on the residents of these areas.
That's not quite what happened in Nassau and about half of Suffolk on Long Island, when they consolidated some of the Town police into County Police. Today both counties have some of the most expensive police forces in the United States.

Personally I take most consolidation talk with a grain of salt. It often does not save any money (indeed sometimes the opposite) and it is often pushed by people with some kind of agenda.
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Old 02-24-2015, 07:53 PM
 
Location: On the Great South Bay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
All the small towns and lack of any big city in NJ always baffled me. I get why the state is the way it is from what people in New Jersey has told me, but it never made any sense. Hudson/Bergen County should all be one big city instead of a bunch of small towns.
Probably people in Bergen County at least, do not want to be part of a big city.
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Old 02-24-2015, 08:38 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Originally Posted by LINative View Post
Probably people in Bergen County at least, do not want to be part of a big city.
That is basically my take from it while I lived in Hudson County for a couple years. The entire state seems to be in some sort of small town mentality (and I don't mean in a hillbilly, podunk kind of way, but more in the small exclusive community kind of way.) I get why it is the way it is, but it just strikes me as odd that a state with almost 9 million people doesn't have that one big city within it, at least one city in the 600K range at least.
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Old 02-24-2015, 10:25 PM
46H
 
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Bergen County, NJ, is 247 sq miles and around 925,000 people. It would be the 24th largest city in the US by sq miles and 11th largest city in the US by population. There are 70 towns/boroughs. Hackensack is the largest with a population of 43,000.
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