In support of the Local Efficiency Achievement Program (LEAP) and Governor Murphy’s commitment to expanding and supporting shared services in New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) staff completed its first training of recipients awarded the LEAP County Coordinator Fellowship Grants. This program is designed to identify and advance shared service opportunities through the hiring of a full-time fellow within each of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
“I’d like to congratulate the first five New Jersey counties of Atlantic, Bergen, Cumberland, Ocean and Union for taking advantage of the LEAP County Coordinator program to help them achieve taxpayer savings,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “This program is highly advantageous in helping towns become more fiscally responsible and is available to every county in the state. We look forward to its growth and continued success.”
Five counties applied for and were awarded grant funds to hire a full-time fellow to work in the county and with each local governmental unit within the county or any entity with whom they may be able to identify and advance shared service opportunities. County Coordinator Fellowship Grants were awarded to: Atlantic, Bergen, Cumberland, Ocean and Union Counties.
The training program spanned two days and addressed the intricacies involved in establishing a positive foundation from which to build a successful shared services program.
The Governor’s appointed Shared Service Czars, Nic Platt and Jordan Glatt, were on hand to promote the program and provided some encouraging words to the fellows. They explained that the program is necessary to relieve New Jersey taxpayers of the burden of high property tax bills.
“You can make a difference in your county by reaching out to the community and encouraging shared services that will bring about cost savings and help every New Jerseyan,” said Jordan Glatt.
Nicolas Platt explained the importance of sharing services and cited the regional court implemented in Morris County involving four municipalities. “In the 21st century it’s too costly to be in the court business alone, especially now with everyone doing virtual communications,” said Nicolas Platt.
“In 2020, even during the pandemic, Local Government Services received over 450 shared services agreements that aimed to realize over $27,000,000 in taxpayer savings,” said Jacquelyn Suárez, DCA Division of Local Government Services Director, as she addressed the fellows and encouraged service sharing as tax saving opportunities.
The DLGS training also provided the fellows with an overview of the LEAP Grants, a program that Governor Murphy has pledged another $10,000,000 toward in FY2021.
The training also included the fundamentals of shared services, an overview of the Shared Services and Consolidation Act, personnel guidelines for sharing services, six rules for successful shared service partnerships, and a handbook outlining common shared services. It also highlighted successful shared services and creative solutions to overcoming hurdles and ways in which to address roadblocks and objections. DCA staff is on hand to support and mentor the fellows throughout the year.
The DCA is encouraging more counties to apply for this unique grant program to be able to hire a fellow and promote shared services.
The LEAP grant program is part of the Local Assistance Bureau in the Division of Local Government Services, which strives to help all local governments achieve excellence, efficiency and long-term fiscal stability in their daily operations.