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Shared Services – 6.21.2006

By Jack Fichter

CREST HAVEN – How many county services could local municipalities, schools and agencies link to in a shared services push to save money?
The county has received an $80,000 state grant to find out by hiring and equipping a shared services coordinator for one year.
Brad Rosenthal, coordinator of safety programs for the county, will move into the shared services job as soon as the funds arrive.
He’ll be located in the Department of Economic Resources and Capital Planning whose principal planner, Leslie Gimeno, wrote the application that won this county the state’s first COUNT grant. She also will be involved in the work, she said.
The grant was announced last week at the New Jersey Association of Counties annual conference in Atlantic City, where Gov. Jon Corzine said go-it-alone should go away and shared services would be one way to reduce budgets.
“Is it home rule, or do we want to get property taxes under control?” he asked.
Gimeno told this newspaper the county project would focus on others sharing with the county, but it “could include” other “natural matches.  It doesn’t have to be county providing (services).”
Rosenthal’s $50,000 salary matches what he makes in his current post. The budget for the grant includes  $18,000 for benefits, $5,000 for operating expenses, $4,000 for office furnishings and $2,500 for a computer and office equipment.
The county will provide a $1,500 cash grant and $9,750 in-kind match for a total program cost of $90,750. The in-kind match includes space, telephone, Internet and mailing costs, according to the grant application.
Rosenthal should be in his new post by next month, Gimeno said.
The position may not expire in 12 months. Gimeno said because the state’s SHARE (Sharing Available Resources Efficiently) program has “implementation money” that could be used to continue the work.
The project calls for Rosenthal to identify services the county and the   towns, schools and agencies all offer and narrow the sharing possibilities to a handful and “get a couple off the ground,” Gimeno said.
“There are so many opportunities,” she said.
A state Department of Community Affairs news release said potential sharing programs include “police and fire protection services, transportation and public works programs, animal control services, emergency dispatching and technology services.”
It said recommendations could include services “between towns, between towns and the county, and between towns and school districts.”
Rosenthal, of Court House, came to county government in August 2003, as a training technician in FareFree Transportation. He left a year later, and returned in September 2005, as coordinator of safety programs.
He’ll be replaced as safety coordinator by William Holmes, a retired Avalon police captain who currently works for a firm providing security management at Hamilton Mall.
Contact Zelnik at (609) 886-8600 Ext. 27 or: jzelnik@cmcherald.com

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