Collingswood Joins 7-Town Shared Services Group
Mayor James Maley said the TD Bank facade collapse earlier this summer really drove home the need for broader interlocal cooperation.
Collingswood Mayor James Maley has long believed in sharing government services as a way of cutting spending and encouraging efficiency.
But it was the collapse of the old TD Bank facade a day after May Fair 2012 that really drove home the need for interlocal cooperation.
Speaking at a press conference on shared services convened by seven local municipalities Tuesday, he said the cleanup might have been done faster had a shared services agreement already been in place.
"We had an old bank building and about 10, 200-pound marble slabs fell off the front," Maley said. "There were more that were hanging on the building.
"We couldn't get the owner to respond as quickly as I needed him to respond," he said. "I needed my construction code official to issue directives and orders, and he was down in the Outer Banks [on vacation].
"This was one in which I needed his enforcement authority," Maley said. "This will plug that gap for us."
(The building Maley was referring to is owned by Haddonfield Dr. Nicholas Depace, who had planned to house his world-renowned sports memorabilia collection within.)
In addition to sharing a construction code officer, the participating towns—including Audubon, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Haddon Township, Mount Ephraim and Oaklyn—exchanged master lists of their municipal vehicle inventories and public works equipment.
These preliminary agreements are expected to lead to broader equipment sharing and infrastructure project planning without having to purchase expensive new vehicles. Each town will introduce a resolution to authorize its participation in the interlocal services agreement at its respective municipal meeting (Collingswood borough commissioners did so Tuesday evening).
One area of service that officials didn't discuss sharing Tuesday is policing. None of the mayors assembled even wanted to touch on the issue of the upcoming Camden County metro division, another shared-services initiative launched by county freeholders to police the city of Camden.
"That's not what we're here for at all; we're not going to get into it," Maley said. "That's a completely different direction. The only county police force involved is a metro division for Camden. No other town, that I know of, has expressed an interest in being involved in it."
The participating towns already have several unofficial shared service agreements that help to cut the costs of providing municipal court, fire, and trash collection services.
"There's great potential in seeing if road projects overlap or splitting the cost of an employee that several towns may only need part-time," Haddonfield Mayor Tish Colombi said in a statement.
"This is just the first initiative. We will continue to look at ways that we can work together to see how we can run things more efficiently," she said.