Window opens on N.J. municipal spending

    A new online database will allows New Jersey residents to easily obtain information about the cost of their local government.

    Called TownStats, the site provides data on population, crime, state aid and budgets for each department in a given municipality.

    Mark Magyar co-founded of the group, the Independent Center, which developed the database.

    “It will make it much easier for municipalities that are looking into whether or not it makes sense to share services. It would also provide opportunities for citizens to compare their cost of services with the cost of services in similar neighboring towns,” Magyar said.

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    Harry Pozycki, chairman of the nonpartisan Citizens Campaign, said the database will cultivate a culture of savings.

    “Grouping services together on a department-by-department basis will allow citizens to see how much they’re spending on public safety or public works or recreation,” said Pozycki. “This will be most informative in their fight to control property taxes.”

    Developers of the website said it will also allow for quick comparison of spending between towns to see whether it makes sense to share services.

    The site now has detailed budget data for 54 municipalities. Plans are to expand it to all 566 by the summer and to include county and school district budget information in the future.

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