The County used the recently awarded COUNT grant under the SHARE Program (Sharing Available Resources Efficiently) to hire a full-time shared services coordinator, who is responsible for identifying areas for shared services and coordinating initiatives between county departments, municipalities, school districts, and other local agencies.
In April 2007, Mercer County held its first County Shared Services Conference as a way to kick-start the process of beginning cost-effective and efficient sharing of resources. With this grant, Mercer County can move another step forward in its mission to create a better coordinated government.
The overall goal of the Office of Shared Services is to establish substantial and long-term shared service agreements throughout Mercer County to help reduce the cost of local government to the taxpayer and improve the availability and efficiency of government services.
The office will work to identify areas where county and local government can work collaboratively to combine resources for more efficient and effective service delivery while at the same time helping to lower capital and operating costs for participating government entities, resulting in tax relief for local taxpayers.
In January 2007, the County surveyed municipalities on services they currently share and see potential for sharing, which helped identify significant areas for sharing services.
The Office of Shared Services is currently preparing for a feasibility study on a countywide Records Management and Storage Facility. The County Planning Division and Office of Emergency Management are readying to initiate shared GIS and Pictometry programs with municipalities, that benefit many facets of local government and provide opportunities for greater consolidation.
This coming summer, the NJ State Police will migrate their current network communications architecture between the State Police and municipalities. NJ Counties will become responsible for serving as the hub for network communications to municipalities. This initiative will help reduce the cost expense to the State Police and allow for increased bandwidth and enhanced applications.
Nancy Coffee, Shared Services Coordinator