Atlantic County has been awarded a $150,000 Local Efficiency Achievement Program Challenge Grant from the state Department of Community Affairs to support a countywide municipal court system.
Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson proposed the consolidation of the municipal courts as a shared services opportunity to promote greater efficiency and cost savings for taxpayers.
He noted a variety of costs associated with municipal courts. In addition to salary and wage, judiciary, legal, administrative and security, there are costs for facility maintenance, utilities, capital, health benefits and pension, office supplies, travel and more. Each court is responsible for these same expenses that could be shared in a countywide system.
According to Levinson, the consolidated court system could provide some towns as much as 30-40% in savings, which he believes would be of great interest to taxpayers.
The LEAP Challenge grant supports projects that demonstrate collaboration and innovation with the potential to produce expansive and efficiency-generating shared services.
The county’s grant award must be used exclusively for the implementation of the countywide municipal court. Levinson said it will help offset start-up costs and any upgrades that may be needed at the historic courthouse in Mays Landing which the county has offered as a centralized location for this purpose.
County representative have been visiting local municipalities to educate public officials about the benefits of having a shared municipal court system.
In the Downbeach area, Ventnor is one of the communities that has expressed interest in joining the countywide system.
Margate and Longport recently combined their courts with court sessions to be held at Margate’s Historic City Hall on Washington and Ventnor avenues.