Conaway, Singleton & Eustace Bill to Establish Procedure for Consolidation of Fire Districts Clears Assembly Panel

"Allowing fire districts to consolidate is a means of reducing costs for municipalities, which ultimately benefits taxpayers," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "The voluntary, streamlined and transparent procedure for which this bill calls will help districts navigate the consolidation process."

The bill (A-3006) would establish an optional procedure for consolidating fire districts. Under the legislation, two or more municipalities would be permitted to consolidate fire districts provided the commissioners of the districts adopt resolutions consenting to the development of a consolidation plan, which would be required to include a first-year budget for the consolidated district.

Upon completion of the plan, the governing body of each municipality would be required to hold a public hearing to discuss consolidation and subsequently vote on a resolution to consolidate. Should the resolution pass, the consolidation would become operative after the next fire district election following the final adoption of the consolidation plan by at least 29 days. New commissioners for the consolidated district would be elected at that time.

"Fire district consolidation will yield long-term savings for taxpayers," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "This legislation will lend some direction to municipalities and those fire districts that believe this is the best direction for them to take."

"All across the state, municipalities are looking for ways to cut costs without compromising quality of life for their residents, and fire district consolidation can be one of those ways," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "By requiring the development of a plan and requiring municipalities to vote on that plan, this bill establishes an open, ordered route for local governments to take should they choose to consolidate."

The bill was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

[Original article]