Highland Park Matters: Mayor commits to shared services and tax stabilization

Highland Park Borough Mayor Gayle Brill Mitler sends the following message to all members of the community

Tax stabilization is the number one priority of my administration, not an easy task in this era of reduced State and Federal funding. As residents, we expect local government to keep taxes as low as possible. And while we realize that things like police and fire departments, a myriad of municipal services, and infrastructure maintenance come with significant costs, we don’t want local taxes to increase any more than is absolutely necessary. I get that. Afterall, I am a Highland Park resident too.

For Highland Park, a small municipality with no indigenous industry or large retailer, situated in a state with one of the highest costs of living in the US, the challenge to keep taxes low is especially difficult. It requires creativity and determination.

One way that Borough government has tackled this challenge is by investigating and setting up “shared services” agreements with other towns and government entities. Such agreements make wise use of limited resources and allow Highland Park to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses.

Over the past decade the Borough has established the following shared services agreements;
o Shared Custodial Services with the Highland Park Board of Education
o Shared Housing Authority Executive Director with Woodbridge
o Shared Animal Control Services with Edison
o Shared Health Officer with Middlesex County
o Shared Fire Marshall with Middlesex County

These arrangements are great steps for saving money. I believe that there are additional opportunities to realize significant savings through more shared services that will not impact negatively on our quality of life here in Highland Park.

Towards that goal, I worked with East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen to convene a meeting of Middlesex County Mayors earlier this month to explore additional opportunities for shared services agreements. For statewide perspective and encouragement, we invited NJ Governor Phil Muphy’s two ‘Shared Services Czars’ – Jordan Glatt and Nicholas Platt – to participate in the meeting. The meeting was well attended, with dozens of towns represented, and the discussion was very informative.

I anticipate continuing these conversations with the mayors from nearby municipalities. Clearly, there are some promising ideas of areas to explore for additional tax savings. I look forward to exploring these ideas in the months to come.

Photo caption:
At the Middlesex County Mayors meeting, left to right: Nicholas Platt, East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen, Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler, and Jordan Glatt.
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