SCOTCH PLAINS - The bad economy has forced many towns to make decisions on how to save money.

Last year, Princeton Township and Princeton Borough merged to share services. That move was driven by the town's respective mayors. This year, the residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood say they want the towns to be one. It's the first time in New Jersey history that citizens have asked for such a merger with no involvement from elected officials.

Fanwood has a population of 7,300, and Scotch Plains is home to 23,000 people. The towns already share a school district, library and main street.

It could take years to become one town, but Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr says talks for a unified police department are already in place. No officers would lose their jobs, and officials say taxpayers could save hundreds each year.

If the state finance board approves the citizen's application, the towns will begin holding meetings in April.