North Wildwood, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest will apply jointly for a state grant for the purpose of conducting a study to discuss the feasibility of the three communities sharing paid fire and emergency medical services, the municipalities announced.

The three communities plan to apply for a Challenge Grant through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Local Efficiency Achievement Program, which incentivizes the sharing of services with the goal of reducing cost, delivering municipal services in a more efficient manner and generating increased value for each dollar spent while ensuring the local units remain responsible stewards of the public trust. The program provides counties, municipalities, school districts, authorities and fire districts assistance for the study or implementation of promising shared services projects undertaken pursuant to the Uniform Shared Service and Consolidation Act, according to information from the NJ DCA website.

The three municipalities have agreed that volunteer operations would not be part of this study, thus meaning that Wildwood Crest would only be a part of a study involving EMS. The study would be used to determine the feasibility of North Wildwood and Wildwood sharing services for paid fire services and the feasibility of North Wildwood, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest sharing emergency medical services.

The three municipalities have agreed to hire an independent firm to study these types of shared services using the grant. This will enable the elected officials and taxpayers in all three municipalities to take an honest look at the possibility of sharing these services.

The state has set aside a total of $3.15 million in LEAP Challenge Grant funds, with up to $150,000 set aside for each county for up to three municipal grants of $50,000 each. If no other entity in a county applies, one application could qualify for the entire $150,000. Funds can be used to support a variety of costs relating to investigating, developing and undertaking a shared services project.

Decisions pertaining to the sharing of these services will not be made in the near future, according to all three municipalities. Any discussions on the sharing of these services will be contingent upon the results of the independent study.

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