By SARAH KLEPNER
A group of Sea Bright residents has been charged with investigating the big C.
The advisory committee will evaluate options “within the local geographic area and examine potential benefits and costs, both financial and cultural,” according to the resolution passed as part of an omnibus vote on several resolutions. No specific potential consolidation partners were mentioned.
Consolidation is gaining attention in the wake of Hurricane Sandy as one way to address the financial fallout, said committee member Marianne McKenzie Morse. She noted that that the professional salaries of experts such as the planning officer or engineer are significant costs to a small town.
“You sit back and look, and say, ‘Wow, how can we do better?’,” she told redbankgreen. “Given the economics, it’s responsible to explore all the concepts for cost savings. You don’t know if it would be beneficial until you explore it.”
This is an opportunity for people who want to strengthen their communities, Morse said.
“Since Sandy, lots of people want to donate time and energy, and many have broad skill sets to contribute,” she said. When municipalities consolidate, the needs and offerings of both communities have to be considered – and this is where skilled volunteers can be helpful, she said, citing the example of an architect who lives out of town but is taking an active interest in the recovery process.
Morse also pointed to the example of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, which officially consolidated this year. But the police departments of both municipalities had already been working together for several months, making assessments of who was doing what and where. When Sandy hit, she said, they found themselves better-positioned to handle the challenges that came with it.
Morse is aware that people have concerns about retaining local identity. “For instance, people say they live in Lincroft, not Middletown.”
“We have to talk about it, let’s not let people speculate about what the facts are.”