Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do Municipalities Lack Info on Best Practices?

Let's say you're a town in NJ that wants advice on how best to deliver services in a cost-effective way. You'd think there's an umbrella organization out there working to provide towns with information on how best to do this. It would compile information on best practices, and make that information easily available, so that each town doesn't have to spend staff time doing its own research. If your dog is barking for no clear reason, it may be picking up on the high-pitched sound of 565 municipalities in New Jersey all trying to reinvent the wheel.

One potential provider of useful information is the NJ League of Municipalities, which just had its annual conference. Since the public works directors I've spoken to in the Princeton area all express exasperation over the struggle to collect loose leaves, yardwaste and brush, I called the League to ask for information on best practices for this service. How do other towns do it? Has anyone come up with a better system?

Surprisingly, the man I was directed to for an answer was completely unaware that towns are struggling with the leaf/yardwaste/brush issue. He didn't remember any articles in their monthly magazine on the subject. They have no best practices for various municipal functions, but if I wished I could look at their monthly magazines for articles. The magazines are not online, however, and the only way to search them is to go to the library and look at each year's December issue for a list of articles, then find that month's magazine in the library's stacks.

Pretty retro. Surely there's some more accessible source of information that just googling with a few key words.

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