Shared Services Marketplace for MunicipalitiesPosted on January 26, 2021
Somerset County is launching the Somerset County Marketplace, an innovative online tool to help county municipalities share services and equipment with each other. Commissioner Melonie Marano conceived of Marketplace based on her earlier experience as Mayor of Green Brook, and worked with Somerset County’s IT and Public Works departments to develop the project during 2020.
“I know from my time on the Green Brook Township Committee that municipalities are always looking for ways to save taxpayers’ money, and as a Commissioner I wanted to make it easier for towns to do so by sharing services with each other,” said Commissioner Marano. “We looked around for examples we could copy, but couldn’t find any so we built it ourselves. Now in addition to supporting Somerset County towns and taxpayers, we’re hoping to be an example others can copy in the future.”
The Somerset County Marketplace will provide Somerset County towns with a central location to list equipment, services, and personnel they have available to share with other communities, and to search for equipment and services they need but don’t have on hand. Towns will set their own prices, and no one is obligated for anything but what they work out together. The goal is for towns to be able to reduce expenses by sharing their resources through a single simple online interface.
For instance, if one town has a stump grinder it doesn’t use very often and another has some stumps to grind, they can get together on the Somerset County Marketplace and make a deal to share the grinder. Instead of both towns bearing the cost of purchasing a stump grinder each, one town simply pays a rental fee to borrow it at a significant savings to their taxpayers.
“With all the challenges we face today, it’s never been more important for county and municipal governments to work together,” said Montgomery Mayor Devra Keenan who was involved in early development and testing of the platform. “I am delighted to see Somerset County move forward on an idea that Montgomery has advocated to encourage cooperation between municipalities and save tax dollars.”
Somerset County has already populated the database with categories it has available, including items such as dump trucks and front loaders, and services such as offset and booklet printing. More than half of Somerset municipalities have already registered and begun utilizing the Marketplace in the first week the service has been live. Additional towns have expressed interest following a presentation on January 12, and it is expected that all 21 communities will participate within a few months.
“For the smaller towns in Somerset County, such as Bernardsville, the new marketplace will be an invaluable tool,” said Bernardsville Mayor Mary Jane Canose. “We don’t always have the resources we need, so being able to quickly find equipment or services that are available from the County or other municipalities will not only help us save tax dollars, but will also give us new opportunities for collaboration. ”
Somerset County is providing all the resources for the Somerset County Marketplace at no additional cost to taxpayers. The marketplace was developed by Somerset County employees is hosted on the County’s website at https://bit.ly/2KO7w2y. Somerset County will also not charge any municipality or, in the future, other participant on the Marketplace for using the service while also providing sample legal agreements for sharing services through the Marketplace.
While the Somerset County Marketplace is implemented, only the County and its municipalities will be eligible to participate. However, the plan is to use the early pilot period to test out and improve the service and later expand it to include school districts, fire districts, and other governmental entities in Somerset County.
Source: Somerset County Office of Public Information