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Wanting to focus its efforts on issues of greatest concern to residents, the Wantage-Sussex consolidation study commission has scheduled a public forum to hear residents’ views on the most important issues to be addressed during the consolidation study.

Residents of the two communities are invited to attend the forum on Wednesday, October 8, at High Point Regional High School, beginning at 7 PM. The school is located on Pigeon Hill Road in Wantage.

Earl Snook, chair of the consolidation study commission, said, “This is a process for the entire Wantage-Sussex community. We want to make sure we address everyone’s concerns. We want to deliver a report that answers every reasonable question.”

At the meeting, residents may voice their concerns and tell the commission members which issues are most important.

The Joint Consolidation Study Commission of Wantage Township and Sussex Borough was formed by the government bodies of the two municipalities. It will study and recommend whether the two should become one. With staff assistance and a grant from the NJ Department of Community Affairs, the commission has hired consultants to study and report on various aspects of the consolidation issue.

Vice-chair Sal Lagattuta notes that the October 8 meeting is a forum, not a public hearing. “Usually,” he said, “government issues a report and asks people to react. We want to talk with people first. We want to hear their concerns. Then, over the next months, we will try to answer all their questions and address their concerns.” Lagattuta emphasized that the commission will not be able to answer questions raised at the meeting. “Our study is just getting underway. Our consultants are on board. The public’s concerns and questions will help us guide their work in the most productive way.”

Both Snook and Lagattuta emphasized that there will be additional opportunities for public comment as the study progresses. If the commission eventually recommends consolidation, voters in both communities must approve before the municipalities are joined.

Snook said the commission developed a preliminary list of concerns and issues at its September meeting. “Now we want to learn if people agree with our list,” he added. Among the most importance issues identified by the commission are a thorough review of all financial matters, including taxes, revenues, debt, and all aspects of Sussex borough’s utility system. Other important issues are form of government and maintenance of community identity.

Because the state will begin charging communities for state-police services, the commission will also examined the possible need for police services, and what alternatives might exist for providing those services. Both towns are currently served by the state police.

In all, the commission discussed and prioritized thirty issues.
For a copy of the preliminary report click here
(pdf format).

This News Release was posted on 9/9/08

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