NEW BRUNSWICK Public support for merging municipalities has dropped since Gov. Christie first called for such action in 2010 as a way to lower property taxes, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll.

Forty-five percent of New Jersey residents back municipal government mergers, the poll said, down nine percentage points from a March 2010 Rutgers-Eagleton survey. Forty-six percent of those surveyed oppose consolidation, up eightpoints over the same period.

In his February budget address, Christie proposed $8.5 million to reimburse local governments engaged in such mergers and called on more to follow.

Twenty percent of respondents say local services would improve, though 37 percent say government would be more efficient. Respondents from both parties express similar levels of support for consolidation.

The survey of 816 New Jersey adults was conducted between March 31 and April 6. Its margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percent.

- Andrew Seidman