LEAP Will Assist Municipalities with Shared Services and Consolidation Efforts
LONG BRANCH - Demonstrating Governor Murphy's commitment to help local governments work smarter and more efficiently, the Administration today announced it is allocating $10 million to assist municipalities looking to promote and support local shared services and school consolidation studies. The new Local Efficiency Achievement Program (LEAP) will be housed in the Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Local Government Services (DLGS), which is uniquely positioned to administer the funding and support municipalities that are serious about achieving cost savings through these endeavors.
“The efforts announced here today enhance our Administration’s ability to guide and encourage our state’s diverse communities that are interested in pursuing consolidation and shared services,” said Governor Murphy. “As we lead our state towards the stronger and fairer economy that we hope to build together, it is our Administration’s responsibility to provide these communities a platform from which to pursue efficient growth, achieve smart government, and provide relief to local taxpayers.”
“Helping our communities achieve savings and growth through shared services is a primary directive of this Administration, and this department,” said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “We must do everything we can to allow these communities to thrive without the burden of increased property taxes, and help our middle class families and retirees enjoy the benefits of the stronger and fairer New Jersey our Administration has worked so hard to build.”
Also announced today, the Local Assistance Bureau (LAB) within DLGS will operate LEAP, which includes the following three initiatives:
Challenge Grants: $3,150,000 ($150,000 per county)
The LEAP Challenge Grant will allocate funds for compelling projects in each of New Jersey’s twenty-one counties, affording local governments the opportunity to compete for grant funding to support efficiency-generating shared services. Municipalities, local authorities, and counties will be challenged to collaborate on extensive partnerships that produce shared services of significance. To achieve impactful models that have the potential for replication, the grant winners will be determined based on scope of impact, breadth of collaboration, and efficiencies generated.
Implementation Grants: $5,800,000
LEAP will provide Implementation Grants to support costs associated with shared services project completion or transition support. Eligible expenses will be for one-time reimbursable costs, including, but not limited to, new technology and equipment, rebranding, and training. Challenge Grant recipients whose efforts result in a shared service agreement may be eligible to receive Implementation Grant funds without a separate application. In addition, funding will be set-aside to partially support district and county-wide school consolidation studies.
Shared Services Coordinator Fellowship: $1,050,000 ($50,000 per county)
Each county will be eligible to receive a grant to hire a young professional to work as a full time Shared Services Coordinator Fellow within the county to identify shared services opportunities, with benefits provided by the county. During the one-year fellowship, the Fellow will be paired with a senior-level county professional who will serve as a mentor. The Fellowship is partly intended to inspire Fellows to embark on a career in the public sector.
“The Division recognizes that property tax savings are achievable when local governments work together to share services and resources,” said DLGS Director Melanie Walter. “We anticipate that the new LEAP initiative will encourage local governments to pursue shared services, with more intensity and urgency, as an option for driving down costs.”
“Once you accomplish a shared service, your residents will thank you for it,” said Shared Services Czar Jordan Glatt. “We can provide you with support, studies, and in some cases grant money but the one tool, unfortunately, that we cannot provide you is courage. Please know we are here to help in any way possible. I ask you to be bold and brave.”
“The Governor's Czar program is well positioned to assist local elected officials bring about change to their communities by providing essential services more efficiently,” said Shared Service Czar Nicolas Platt. “Every mayor, borough administrator, resident, and beyond, has an interest in achieving cost savings and efficiencies. We are all stakeholders in this effort."