Applications are now being accepted by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Division of Local Government Services for the distribution of $10 million in available funding through the Local Efficiency Achievement Program, it was announced this week.
LEAP provides financial assistance to local government entities such as counties, municipalities, school districts, authorities and fire districts across the state of New Jersey to identify, study and implement shared services initiatives. The program is aimed at encouraging towns to streamline their government services to increase efficiency and help save taxpayer dollars.
The funds for the program were allocated in the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget.
“Because many New Jersey local governments are still feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of an uncertain economy on budgets and operations, sharing services has become an increasingly used tool as one way of overcoming financial challenges,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “DCA is proud to assist communities with these shared services efforts through our LEAP initiative, which has proven to be helpful to local governments that want to make shared services ideas a reality.”
LEAP is comprised of three primary components: Challenge, Implementation and County Coordinator Fellowship Grants:
- Challenge Grants: They promote innovation and collaboration on more expansive projects and levels of participation that produce shared services with increased significance to local communities. Application deadline: March 15.
- Implementation Grants: They support costs associated with implementation of shared services and school feasibility studies. Application deadline: This is a rolling application process.
- County Coordinator Fellowship Grants: They support the identification and advancement of shared services opportunities through the hiring of a new employee or designating an existing employee to work with the county and any entity within the county, including local units of government, to identify and advance shared service opportunities. For those counties already employing or engaging coordinators, this grant is still available to supplement the coordinator function. Application deadline: March 15.
Applicants are reminded that limited funding is available under the applicable Fiscal Year 2023 appropriation, and awards under the FY2023 funding cycle must be made on or before June 30, 2023. Applicants are encouraged to submit a completed application package by March 15, 2023, to ensure consideration for the FY23 funding cycle.
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DLGS Director Jacquelyn Suárez said the program could have great impact.
“To embark on shared services is no easy feat for local governments. It takes a great deal of commitment and even courage, because it can be hard to share control of essential services,” she said. “It’s why the (Gov. Phil) Murphy administration has put in place so many tools such as LEAP grants that local governments can use to make the work less difficult.”
To date, more than $8 million in LEAP grants have been awarded in support of shared services throughout the state. LEAP grants have helped to produce tremendous savings for local governments while improving the lives of many. For instance, recent county correctional facility consolidations enabled staff and inmates to be relocated to more modern facilities. DCA recently helped facilitate and execute the following shared services agreements:
- Atlantic County Utilities Authority: ACUE entered into a waste collection shared service agreement with Cumberland County Improvement Authority, yielding a first-year cost savings of $260,581 and a second-year cost savings of $259,641;
- Cumberland County Improvement Authority: CCIA entered into a capital projects management shared service agreement, yielding a first-year cost savings of $624,984;
- Sussex and Morris counties: They entered into a correctional facility shared services agreement yielding a yearly cost savings of $1.4 million;
- Union and Essex counties: They entered into a correctional facility shared services agreement yielding cost savings of over $103 million for a 5-year period.