There is no more ardent advocate for requiring New Jersey towns to share services, if it makes sense, than state Sen. President Steve Sweeney.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (Photo by Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media)

No group opposes forcing the issue more than the State League of Municipalities.

Today, Sweeney addresses Garden State mayors at the League of Municipalities annual conference in Atlantic City.

The full Upper House has already approved Sweeney's shared services bill and he wants the full Assembly to pass it before the lame duck session ends and the next legislative session begins in January. He called getting the bill signed into law his top priority.

"The League of Municipalities is never going to embrace the law because what we say is, 'If you don't do things a little bit better you lose money,'" explained Sweeney. "There's no loose change around this place. Every place we've looked, under the seat cushions and everything else, all of the money is gone."

Under Sweeney's bill New Jersey's Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) to study local government units (county government, municipal government, school districts) to determine where taxpayer dollars could be saved through sharing of services.

If the study shows that a savings can be realized through sharing that service in one or more local governments, the question of whether to do so or not would be put to a public referendum in all municipalities involved. If the towns involved fail to pass the proposal, they would be subject to losing state aid in the amount equal to what they would have saved had they shared the service. If one town approves it but another denies it, only the town that denied it would lose aid.

"What we have to make sure of is that when we're giving aid to towns we're giving to towns themselves that are trying to be more efficient.," said Sweeney.

If voters in town "A" vote in favor of sharing services or consolidating, but voters in town "B" shoot the Ballot Question down, town "A" wouldn't lose aid they were willing to step up, but town "B" is going to lose it.

Bill Dressel, Executive Director of the State League of Municipalities, has applauded the majority of the bill but feels voters in towns that reject the sharing of services shouldn't be penalized by losing state aid.