The Division of Local Government Services released Local Finance Notice 2023-06 (LFN 2023-06). The Local Government Ethics Law (LGEL) requires local government officers to file a financial disclosure statement (FDS) annually. This blog post discusses the guidelines for the 2023 FDS filing year, which is due by April 30.
According to N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.6.a, local government officers (LGOs) must file an FDS annually. The deadline for filing is April 30, except for newly elected or appointed LGOs, who must file within 30 days of taking office. The LGOs must file the original statement with the municipal clerk, county clerk, or other local government entity representative as appropriate to the circumstances. Additionally, a copy of the statement must be filed with the Local Finance Board (LFB). Since 2014 the DLGS has been using the Local Finance Board’s online filing system.
Role of Municipal Clerks, County Clerks, and Other Local Government Entity Representatives
Municipal clerks, county clerks, and other local government entity representatives have administrative responsibilities concerning managing the roster in connection with financial disclosure statements. They must carefully review LFN 2023-06 and visit the FDS website for instructions and other resources. They must update the LGO roster to add new 2023 LGOs, update existing LGOs’ positions and information, or "In-Activate" those LGOs who are no longer serving the local government entity. All LGO rosters must be completed no later than March 31, 2023, so that LGOs have sufficient time to complete and submit their FDS forms by April 30, 2023.
Determining Local Government Officers Required to File
N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.3g [LB3] defines a local government officer as “any person, whether compensated or note, whether part-time or full time: (1) elected to any office of local government agency; (2) serving on a local government agency which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances; (3) who is a member of an independent municipal, county, or regional authority; or who is a managerial executive employee of local government agency as defined in rules and regulations adopted by the Director of the Division of Local Government Services….but shall not mean any employee of a school district or member of a school board.” N.J.A.C. 5:35.2.1 [LB4] list the positions specifically required to file a FDS. The Attorney General’s Office has issued AO 91-0093 and AO 91-0093 to provide direction and clarification on position that must file the FDS.
LGE representatives must carefully review their LGO roster in consideration of the guidance provided in in consultation with legal counsel. Newly elected or appointed LGOs shall be added to the roster and required to file the FDS within 30 days of taking office. If it is determined that some individuals within the local government are not deemed to be local government officers and, therefore, not required to file an FDS, the LGE representative must update the LGO roster and notify those individuals of the determination.
Local Ethics Board
Local ethics boards are established by counties or municipalities to regulate the conduct of local government officers or employees in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.4. The Local Finance Board in the Division of Local Government Services governs and guides the conduct of local government officers or employees who are not otherwise regulated by a county or municipal code of ethics. If a municipality or county has a local ethics board, it is responsible for enforcing FDS filing requirements, and all notices, including violation notices, should come from the local ethics board rather than the Local Finance Board. A list of municipalities and counties that have a local ethics board is available on the Board's website.
Best Practices Inventory
The State's Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Act requires DLGS to determine whether to withhold some of a municipality's tax relief aid based on the results of a Best Practices Inventory. The inventory includes a question about whether all elected officials in the municipality have filed their FDS, and municipalities should be aware that elected officials who do not file can affect the amount of aid received. See LFN 2022-17 for more information.
The League recommends reviewing LFN 2023-06 with your municipal clerk and municipal attorney.