Several weeks ago, The Press printed an article titled “County’s consolidated municipal court a model for NJ” by retired NJ Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez. The Judge believes that “what Atlantic County has accomplished in a relatively short time has been extraordinary. Changing home rule status quo took a monumental effort. It’s an example of government working and making a difference”.
In 2021 Atlantic County, with bipartisan effort and support, established the first countywide municipal court in NJ. It became operational in January 2022. So far, 10 of the 23 municipalities in this county participate in this consolidation.
Brigantine is not among them. It voted last year not to join. What is known in NJ as “home rule” – maintaining local control and the status quo, prevailed over the benefits of consolidation of the municipal justice system and all involved in it.
Every governing body has the duty to provide the most effective government at the lowest reasonable cost. This applies especially in a state such as NJ with some of our country’s highest property taxes.
Before consolidation, all Atlantic County municipal courts operated at a loss. This consolidation reduces the cost to taxpayers.
There are other equally significant advantages and benefits to this consolidation – greater, more efficient and comprehensive use of public and relevant private resources, up-to-date technology, and greater oversight of judicial and other personnel performance, all contributing to a true public servic effective, convenient, accountable, affordable.
Last year, City Council said it would monitor this consolidation as it began its operations and then re-consider it.
Last year, the Brigantine Taxpayers Association supported consolidation. We continue to do so.
City Council owes it to the taxpayers to take another look and broaden its perspective and knowledge in doing so. A new year is coming soon with another opportunity to change direction.
If something costs less and does the job better, what justification is there in rejecting it?
Sincerely, Anne H. Phillips, Brigantine Taxpayers Association