According to a release, the Dennis Township Board of Education is slated to receive a Challenge Grant of $28,927.45, and Middle Township Public Schools is slated to receive an Implementation Grant of $47,000.
These grants, totaling over $2.5 million, will help local governments pursue shared services to reduce taxpayer costs and enhance services. The grant awards will support the design and implementation of a variety of shared services initiatives, including 911 dispatch, regional municipal courts, sanitation, public works, correctional facilities, and school feasibility studies.
“In the wake of the pandemic, local governments are looking for innovative ways to cut costs to offset unexpected expenses incurred this past year. Shared services are a proven way to accomplish this while preserving and even enhancing existing services,” stated Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). “The LEAP grants being awarded today are specifically designed to help towns streamline resources to achieve taxpayer savings without sacrificing the quality of services their residents need.”
The LEAP program is comprised of three grant initiatives: Challenge Grants, which promote innovation and collaboration on more expansive projects that produce shared services of notable significance; Implementation Grants, which assist in covering costs associated with the implementation of shared services and school feasibility studies; and County Coordinator Fellowship Grants, which support the hiring of a full-time county shared service coordinator to identify and advance shared service opportunities within a county.
“We applaud these local governments who, in the midst of Covid-19, are taking the time to figure out how to do things better by working together. DCA stands ready to partner with any local government in its shared services efforts,” stated DLGS Director Jacquelyn Suárez.
Challenge Grants have been awarded to entities seeking new and innovative ways to share services in a wide array of areas, including shared digital platforms for everything from tracking food security issues to fire hydrant locations; sharing public safety and dispatch services equipment, sharing heavy equipment across towns, and joint maintenance of equipment, grounds and facilities.
Implementation Grants are used to help local governments defray costs associated with moving to a shared model. These include regionalizing sanitation services across towns, shared records management systems, shared equipment programs, regional 911 systems, and a shared regional county municipal court.
Additionally, LEAP grants have been utilized to cover school consolidation studies. As school budgets continue to be the largest expense funded by property taxes, the State of New Jersey will continue prioritizing new and innovative methods of achieving cost savings in schools, while also maintaining or improving upon the state’s high degree of educational excellence.
While the deadline for Challenge Grants has passed, there are still funds available and local entities may still submit applications for Implementation Grants until June 30. For more information, interested local governments can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To support local governments’ interest in shared services, DLGS established the Local Assistance Bureau (LAB), which provides technical assistance for each step of the shared services process from identification through implementation. The LAB team is comprised of municipal professionals who possess tremendous expertise and accumulated knowledge, skill sets and insights to bring a fresh, enthusiastic, progressive, and professional outlook to the field of municipal shared services.
Furthermore, in 2018, Gov. Phil Murphy appointed Nicholas Platt and Jordan Glatt to serve as shared services czars, who are ready and available to provide guidance and support to local governments considering entrance into a shared service agreement.
“Municipalities continue to be under extraordinary pressure to find tax savings and the Governor’s shared services program was established to help elected officials do just that,” Platt, a former mayor and current township committeeman of Harding Township, Morris County. “The funding of these LEAP grants is an important way to get the word out on how other communities are driving down their operating costs.”
“As municipal budgets are being depleted by Covid-19, it is incumbent on municipalities to look for any and all savings,” stated Glatt, a former mayor of Summit in Union County. “Shared services do exactly that. We are thrilled to be able to provide support to help communities through these difficult times.”
Local governments interested in learning more about shared services can send an email to email@example.com or visit www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/programs/lab.html.