>By Liz Keill
April 20, 2010, 9:00AM
SUMMIT — Saving taxpayer dollars, as most residents know, has become a major theme in Governor Chris Christie’s administration. And one of those tools would be to privatize some products or services.
About 80 people, many of them state union members, gathered at Summit High School on Wednesday, April 14, to testify before a state Privatization Task Force appointed by Gov. Christie.
The task force has been charged with finding $50 million in savings in the 2011 budget and $100 million in savings for the year.
“We’re looking for ways to outsource or turn over to the private sector whatever services we can,” said task force member P. Kelly Hatfield of Summit.
“We hope to give elected officials the tools that they need to make local government more cost effective,” said Hatfield, who is a former member of the Summit Common Council and Board of Education. The task force was asked to apply the “yellow pages test,” she said, to determine if there was a duplication of services being offered by the private sector or by non-profit organizations. “How can we eliminate impediments? New Jersey has made some mistakes,” she said. A few years ago an effort to privatize motor vehicle inspections led to long lines and a cumbersome process.
The task force has been meeting since March 11 and has interacted with the four major unions in New Jersey, including the New Jersey Education Association and the Communication Workers of America.
Hatfield said other states have been doing this reduction in state government successfully, citing Texas, West Virginia and Virginia as examples. In Texas, she said, highway work and infrastructure projects are being handled by the private sector.