Atlantic County and several of its municipalities have been awarded $521,000 in state Local Efficiency Achievement Program grants to implement shared services programs that increase efficiency and reduce costs.
Of the 20 grants awarded throughout the state, six went to Atlantic County. In the Downbeach area, Ventnor received two grants and Longport received one.
“We’re proud of our efforts to work with our municipalities to find savings for our taxpayers,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said in a release. “As most of our citizens know, I have been advocating for shared services among local governments and school districts for decades, but New Jersey has a long history of home rule which can make it a hard sell.”
Atlantic County was successful in opening the Central Municipal Court of Atlantic County in January 2022, becoming the first consolidated municipal court system in the state that currently includes nine towns and as of Aug. 1 will also include Corbin City.
Longport is currently considering joining the consolidated court system, which would provide the municipality with ample savings over its current agreement with Margate City. Margate has submitted a proposal to further reduce costs for Longport in hopes that the borough will decide to stay with the local shared services agreement that’s been in place for the last two years.
Fifteen towns will participate in the six grant-funded shared services and benefit from cost savings.
A LEAP grant in the amount of $201,364 was awarded to Absecon for an agreement with Galloway Township for emergency dispatch services. The grant funds will be used to upgrade equipment to ensure compatibility between the two towns.
Ventnor received a $37,500 LEAP grant for the purchase of an emergency management trailer that will serve as a shared command center for Ventnor, Margate and Longport. Ventnor also received a $112,500 grant so it can purchase a truck and equipment to store brine and treat county roads located within the town.
Longport will use its $56,250 LEAP grant for new computer software to manage flood plain activities and increase flood insurance discounts for its residents through the National Flood Insurance Program. Access to the system will be shared with Brigantine, Egg Harbor Township, Hamilton Township, Pleasantville, Somers Point and Ventnor. On Wednesday, July 20, the Longport Board of Commissioners passed a resolution accepting the funds.
Atlantic County will help protect the safety of road crews and motorists with the purchase of three trailer-mounted attenuators and three electronic sign boards with its $64,078 grant. The equipment will be shared among 12 municipalities that include Absecon, Brigantine, Buena Vista Township, Egg Harbor City, Folsom, Hammonton, Linwood, Margate, Mullica Township, Northfield, Pleasantville and Ventnor.
An additional $50,000 was awarded to the county to fund the position of its full-time shared services coordinator, former Ventnor City Mayor Tim Kreischer.