A new survey by the New Jersey League of Municipalities finds an increasing number of Garden state towns are pulling out all stops to save money and cut costs.

League Executive Director Bill Dressel says the survey found local governments have been making “layoffs in personnel, increased numbers of furloughs and they’re reducing certain services …also about 82 percent of the respondents indicated that in the last year their municipality utilized shared service contracts.”

He says towns with civil service requirements in their contracts are facing difficulties when it comes to sharing services with other communities.

“It’s really legally an impediment” he says, “where you cannot really combine unless you have a buy-in from the various unions…also many towns are also trying to generate revenue by increasing user fees -you’re talking about things like parking meters, you’re talking about fees that you would pay for various permits, including sports and recreation…and many other types of fees as well, for things like…Lawn sales, garage sales – things of that nature…they’re re-evaluating their fee structure to make sure the cost of that particular user fee covers the cost of administration.”

Dressel adds “everything is on the table for mayors and governing bodies to be able to maximize efficiencies – to be able to provide the quality of life services that they’re required to – at an affordable cost…this has become more of a challenge over the last few years because of reductions in state aid, because of a proliferation of successful property tax appeals.

He says a growing number of towns are making cutbacks in police and fire fighting personnel…as well as in their public works departments – “you’re looking at reductions in personnel – which means you’re getting into affecting the services of trash removal, snow removal, also, for maintaining the recreational fields for soccer for football and all the other recreational offerings: 09 outdoor sports for the youth…folks are looking at any way they possibly can to reduce the bottom line:06 that is the costs associated with providing these services.”

Mike Cerra, the League of Municipalities Policy Analyst says “towns are putting everything on the table – looking at shared services, regionalization and even doing energy audits to save money -you’re pulling everything out of the playbook in order to cope with the 2 percent cap.”