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NJLM’s Annual Conference is held each November, the week before Thanksgiving; Tuesday through Thursday.
Visit the Conference Section of the website for more information/
The Conference is located at the Atlantic City Convention Center, One Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ 08401.
Phone: 609-449-2000; fax: 609-449-2090. http://meetac.com/meet/directions-maps-and-transportation
Yes, there will be a new conference app available Oct. 4 from your device's app stores. Even if you downloaded the app last year, you must download it again for 2019.
The NJLM CEU Tracking System will be available on Monday, November 25, 2019.
Your Badge Number is the number located on the bottom left hand side of your badge.
Absolutely! You can use your last name and zip code to log into the system. However, please note, the system is very sensitive, so if you still have your badge number, we ask that you try that before you call the League. If you still cannot log-in then call the League at 609-695-3481.
If you receive the message “Login Error: Login Information not found” it generally means you have incorrectly entered your login information. Try to login again. If after multiple login attempts you are still receiving this message please contact the League at 609-695-3481.
If you attempt to log-in into the CEU Tracking System and you get a message stating: “Your badge is registered as a non paying badge and therefore is not valid for CEU registration. If you wish to obtain CEU certification…” Please try again to log-in. If that still does not work, please contact the League at 609-695-3481.
Yes, Evaluation forms are mandatory for every session and the certificate will not print out unless you fill out the form.
The CTA Certificate is a required form for Tax Assessors. If you are not receiving Tax Assessor credits, you do not need to worry about this form. Similarly a NJ CLE Certificate (CLE) is for NJ Attorneys. If you are not an NJ Attorney you may also ignore this form. (Pennsylvania Attorneys see question 9 for instructions on how to claim your PACLE)
You have up to May 1, 2020, to claim your conference CEUs. After that, the link will be taken off of the website.
PACLE courses require the attendee to pay a separate fee to obtain credits. Please print out either the general attendance certificate or the NJCLE certificate (if the option is there) for the course you attended and then attach it with a check to the PACLE credit form found on the League Conference page. Please mail all materials to the League office. Once received, the League will issue you a receipt by mail for your credits. The League will post your Credits on the PACLE site under your bar number.
Yes, a certificate will print as long as the attendee has scanned in once, however, attendees are required to sign-in/ sign-out for every session. Sign-in/out times are recorded on the individual certificates, so if a time is missing, the certifying agency may decide to deny credit to the attendee.
Some of the accrediting bodies require a license number to appear on the attendance sheets for their licensees. This feature adds that number to the attendance sheets. If you do not hold a license number this is not an issue. Simply check “I do not hold one of these licenses” and hit “save." You will still able to print a certificate.
If you do not have a license number or bar id simply check the option” I do not hold any of the licenses above” and hit “save.” Once this is done the page should allow you to fill out an evaluation form and print or email your certificates.
Township Committee 3 or 5 members, elected at-large. Staggered, 3 year terms. Partisan
Organization of Governing Body
First week in January
Elected by Township Committee for 1 year term. Chairs Committee with voice and vote. Head of municipal government. Has all powers vested in mayor by general law.
Legislative body of municipality. Has all executive responsibilities of the municipality not placed in office of mayor.
Executive responsibility not vested in mayor belongs to Township Committee. May delegate, by ordinance, all or a portion of executive responsibilities to an administrator. Township Committee may adopt an administrative code.
Mayor and 6 Council. Elected at-large. Mayor has a 4 year term. Council has staggered 3 year terms. Partisan
ORGANIZATION OF GOVERNING BODY
Head of municipal government. Sees that state laws and borough ordinances are faithfully executed. Presides over Council. Votes only to break ties. Can veto ordinances subject to override by 2/3 majority of Council. Appoints subordinate officers with Council approval; after 30 days or upon Council disapproval, Council fills posts.
Legislative body of municipality. Overrides mayor's veto by 2/3 majority of all members. Confirms mayor's appointments. Gains appointment power upon failure to confirm mayor's appointee or after office vacant for 30 days. Has all executive responsibility not placed in office of mayor.
Mayor is head of municipal government and sees that state laws and borough ordinances are faithfully executed. Council has all executive responsibility not placed in office of mayor. Council may delegate, by ordinance, all or a portion of executive responsibility to an administrator. Council may adopt an administrative code.
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OTERS ELECT Mayor and Council. Partisan ORGANIZATION OF GOVERNING BODY First week in January MAYOR Chief Executive. May participate in Council deliberations. May vote to break ties on ordinances or resolutions. Can veto ordinances subject to a 2/3 override by Council. Heads police department. Appoints police chief, captains and sergeants with Council approval. COUNCIL Legislative body of municipality. Overrides mayor's veto by 2/3 majority of all members. Appoints subordinate officials of municipality, except as provided elsewhere by law. ADMINISTRATION Mayor is chief executive. City may delegate, by ordinance, all or a portion of executive responsibility to an administrator. City may adopt administrative code.
VOTERS ELECT Mayor and Council. Partisan ORGANIZATION OF GOVERNING BODY First week in January MAYOR Head of municipal government. Chairs Council with voice and vote. Can veto ordinances subject to a 2/3 override by Council. COUNCIL Legislative body of municipality. Overrides mayor's veto by 2/3 majority of all members. Appoints all subordinate officers, except municipal clerk, tax assessor and tax collector, who are appointed by mayor and council. Has all executive responsibility not placed in office of mayor. ADMINISTRATION Mayor is head of municipal government and has all powers vested in mayor by general law. Council has all executive responsibility of municipality not placed in office of mayor. Council may delegate, by ordinance, all or a portion of executive responsibilities to an administrator. Council may adopt an administrative code.
VOTERS ELECT Board of Trustees. 5 members, elected at-large. Staggered, 3 year terms.
ORGANIZATION OF GOVERNING BODY First week in January
VILLAGE PRESIDENT President of the Board. Elected by Board for 1 year term. Has voice and vote. Head of municipal government has all powers vested in Mayor by general law.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES Legislative body of municipality. Has all executive responsibilities of the municipality not placed in office of Village President.
ADMINISTRATION Executive responsibilities not vested in Village President belong to Board of Trustees. May delegate, by ordinance, all or a portion of executive responsibilities to an administrator. Board of Trustees may adopt an administrative code.
3 or 5 Commissioners. At-large, nonpartisan, 4 year concurrent terms.
Third Tuesday of May following election.
Elected by Board of Commissioners for 4 year term. Presides over Board of Commissioners. No veto power.
Board of Commissioners exercises legislative power of the municipality.
Each Commissioner acts as department head. No single chief executive.
3,5,7 or 9 Council members. At-large nonpartisan. 4 year concurrent or staggered terms.
Elected by Council. Presides over Council. Serves 4 year term if concurrent elections. Serves 2 year term if staggered elections.
Council exercises legislative and policy power of the municipality.
Manager is chief executive and administrative official of the municipality. Prepares budget. Manager appoints and removes department heads. Attends Council meetings with voice, but no vote. Manager appoints and removes department heads.
Mayor and 5,7 or 9 Council members. Council: all at-large or combination of wards and at-large. Partisan or nonpartisan. 4 year concurrent or staggered terms.
Partisan: January 1
Nonpartisan: July 1
Exercises executive power of the municipality, appoints department heads with Council approval. Removes department heads subject to Council disapproval by 2/3 of all members. Prepares budget. Has veto over ordinances subject to override by 2/3 of all members of Council.
Exercises legislative power of municipality, approves appointment of department heads. Disapproves removal of department heads by 2/3 vote of all members. Overrides Mayor's veto by 2/3 of all members.
Mayor exercises executive power of the municipality. Up to 10 departments under Mayor's direction. Business Administrator assists Mayor in budget preparation and administers purchasing and personnel systems. By ordinance, Business Administrator may supervise administration of departments, subject to Mayor's direction.
5,7 or 9 Council members or Mayor and 4, 6 or 8 Council members. Mayor elected at-large. Council elected all at-large or combination of wards and at-large. Partisan or nonpartisan. 4 year concurrent or staggered terms.
Elected by council or voters. Presides over Council. Council elected mayor serves a term of 1, 2 or 4 years depending on whether elections are staggered or concurrent. Voter elected mayor serves 4 year term.
Manager is chief executive and administrative official of municipality. Prepares budget. Appoints and removes department heads. Attends Council meetings with voice, but no vote.
3, 5 or 7 Council members or Mayor and 2, 4 or 6 Council members. Elected at-large. Council: 3 year concurrent or staggered term. Voter elected mayor serves 4 year term. Partisan or nonpartisan elections.
Elected by voters or Council. Presides over Council with voice and vote, but no veto. Exercises executive power of the municipality. Appoints Council committees. Appoints municipal clerk, attorney, tax assessor, tax collector, treasurer with Council confirmation. Council elected mayor serves 1 or 3 years, depending on whether terms are staggered or concurrent.
Exercises legislative power of the municipality. Approves Mayor's appointees for municipal clerk, attorney, tax assessor, tax collector and treasurer.
Mayor exercises executive power of municipality. Council may create an administrator by ordinance.
Mayor and 6 council members. At-large, staggered terms, partisan elections. Mayor: 4 year term. Council: 3 year term.
Presides over Council. Exercises the executive power of municipality. Votes only to break ties. Has veto subject to override by 2/3 of all Council members. Appoints municipal clerk, administrator, attorney, tax collector, tax assessor, treasurer, and department heads with Council approval. May remove department heads upon written notice to Council.
Exercises legislative power of the municipality. Approves Mayor's appointees for municipal clerk, administrator, attorney, tax collector, tax assessor, treasurer and department heads. May remove department heads for cause after a hearing. Prepares budget with assistance of municipal administrator and treasurer.
Mayor exercises executive power of the municipality. Up to six departments may be created by ordinance. Administrator supervises administration of each department.
There are two types of special charters in New Jersey: 1) "Orphan" charters issued by the state legislature in the 19th century prior to the major constitutional revision of 1875, which prohibited "special" or locality specific legislation. Most "orphan" charters are a variation of the weak mayor-council type. 2) Special charters issued by the state legislature under the provisions of the state Constitution of 1947 and NJSA 1:6-10 et seq. These special charters defy simple classification, and include variations of the weak mayor-council form, council-manager form, township committee form, and the village form.
You can subscribe to receive New Jersey League of Municipalities email newsletters. All you need is an email address and we will send you our Web News and Alerts automatically. When you register you will automatically be sent an email acknowledging your registration.
All 565 New Jersey municipalities, regardless of their form of government, can be classified as belonging to one of five types of municipal government. View the Forms of Government page for an explanation of each type of municipal government.
NJLM's Annual Conference is held each November, the week before Thanksgiving; Tuesday through Thursday. Click here for more information.
Directions to the State House in Trenton are available NJ State Legislature website. Click Here.
Single lists are available on pressure sensitive labels or via email in Microsoft Excel format. Click here for information.
Yes, the NJLM Municipal Directory and other League publications can be purchased from the League. Click here for more information.
For a list of New Jersey municipal websites click here.
Visit the League Professional Development page to view information on upcoming seminars and webinars.
The difficulty depends upon the context of the service and amount of change involved in the process. First, there must be political will to pursue creation of a joint service. There will always be some rough spots, either operational, personnel or fiscal impacts that will need to be surmounted. Second, a vacancy in a leadership position such as the service's director position makes sharing or jointly providing a service much easier. Third, "participant buy-in" will increase the probability of success. Decision making should be a participative affair, not a dictate from a distant authority. All affected parties need to understand the financial, programmatic and personnel reasons for and impacts of the proposed change. This is often the reason municipalities complete formal or informal feasibility studies before initiating a joint service.
It is not always clear that all of the financial and operational elements of a joint service will actually work.
A feasibility study will provide elected and appointed managerial officials with insights into the operation and identify capital, financial, human, and other resource impacts permitting a more reasoned and responsible decision regarding possible sharing.
Employees worried about:
Or any combination or all of the above.
Sometimes it is not beneficial to jointly provide services:
Ultimately, the primary objective of joining with another agency to provide a service is to increase efficiency and/or effectiveness. It is necessary that both parties in the sharing arrangement gain something: either a lower cost for the same service level or an improved service, a higher service level or more people served. Other benefits may be increased capacity or capabilities.
For bill/legislative information visit our Legislative Bulletin or click here to visit the NJ State Legislature's website. You may also try contacting one of the League's legislative analysts by calling 609-695-3481, and dialing extension 112, 121 or 120, or via email by clicking on the name of the analyst that you would like to contact: Lori, Jon or Mike C.
The amount of property tax relief funding that municipalities get from the State - the vast majority of which is raised from the Income Tax and from utility taxes that were formerly collected by municipalities - directly affects the level of public services in your community and the amount of property taxes that you pay.
When your property tax bill goes up and municipal services don’t meet your needs, ask your State Legislators and the Governor if the State is providing your home town with adequate financial aid. Municipal property tax relief funding can help to pay for the local services you need and can keep your property taxes from going up - again.
Click here to view a full resource center on this topic.
On Wednesday, July 21, 2021, the National Prescription Opiate Litigation MDL Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, several State Attorneys General, and four major defendants announced agreement on terms of proposed nationwide settlements to resolve all Opioids litigation brought by states and local political subdivisions against the three largest pharmaceutical distributors: McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen (“Distributors”), and manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its parent company Johnson & Johnson (collectively, “J&J”).
These settlements, if agreed and adopted, will provide substantial funds to states and local governments for abatement of the Opioids epidemic across the country and will impose transformative changes in the way the settling defendants conduct their business.
Municipalities with a population of 10,000 persons or more that wish to participate in the settlement can do so by registering online and signing the two necessary Participation Agreements. All New Jersey municipalities with a population over 10,000 or actively litigating the matter have been assigned a unique registration code that would have been sent to you by the settlement administrators. You can also find your municipality’s registration code using this listing.
Municipalities with a population under 10,000 can also participate in the settlement agreement but most go through a slightly different process. Smaller municipalities must fill out the two Settlement Participation Forms (Distributors and Janssen) and return them to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office via email to OpioidSettlements@njoag.gov.
Participation from all municipalities, regardless of population, is important because of the way the settlement agreement is structured. Greater local government participation entitles the state and local governments to a greater pot of funding.
The Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987 (CRDA) (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-1 et seq.) makes “distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog while on any school property used for school purposes that is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of such school property or a school bus, or while on any school bus,” a crime of the third degree. This 1,000-foot buffer is what is often referred to as the “drug-free school zone.”
The recently adopted cannabis legalization law changed the definition of “controlled dangerous substance” within the CRDA to preclude legalized cannabis. This change means that a licensed and authorized cannabis facility may operate within the 1,000-foot drug-free school zone.
It must be noted, however, that while cannabis is no longer considered a controlled dangerous substance under New Jersey law, Federal law continues to identify all forms of marijuana, including medicinal marijuana, as a Schedule 1 controlled substance that has potential for abuse and diversion pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 801 et seq.
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, “distributing, possessing with intent to distribute, or manufacturing a controlled substance in or on, or within 1,000 feet of, the real property comprising a public or private elementary, vocational, or secondary school or a public or private college, junior college, or university, or a playground, or housing facility owned by a public housing authority, or within 1,000 feet of a public or private youth center, public swimming pool, or video arcade facility,” remains a Federal criminal offense.
Municipalities cannot prohibit the delivery of cannabis items and related supplies by a delivery service. A municipality may adopt an ordinance regulating the number of cannabis establishments, distributors, or delivery services located within the municipality. And, while a municipality may also adopt an ordinance regulating the location, manner, and times of operation of cannabis establishments and distributors, they cannot regulate the time of operation of delivery services. Only the Cannabis Control Commission can regulate delivery services.
A municipality may impose a transfer tax on the sale of cannabis or cannabis items by a cannabis establishment located within the municipality. The tax may be imposed on:
A municipality is free to set its own tax rate but in no case can the rates exceed:
If a municipality adopts an ordinance providing for a transfer tax as noted above, the ordinance must also provide for a user tax. This user tax must be equivalent to the transfer tax rates, on any concurrent license holder, operating more than one cannabis establishment. The user tax allows for tax parity, by preventing vertically integrated cannabis establishments from avoiding the transfer tax.
It is difficult to produce a projection for local transfer and user tax revenue for many reasons. First, any local tax revenue projection would require an analysis of the demand for cannabis. Demand is difficult to determine given it could be greatly impacted by cannabis legalization efforts in surrounding states. The less novel legalized cannabis becomes the less opportunity there is for “cannabis-tourism.” Second, it is unknown at this time the number of each class of license that will be approved by the Cannabis Control Commission. Given these uncertainties, any revenue projections should be carefully scrutinized.
It is the responsibility of the Cannabis Control Commission to promulgate regulations regarding accreditation and licensure criteria for cannabis testing facilities. There is no current law or regulation that provides for municipal approval as part of the licensing requirements for cannabis testing facilities. Nor is there specific authority for a municipality to outright prohibit testing facilities within their boundaries like there is for cannabis establishments.
Cannabis testing facilities operate much like any other laboratory or research facility, and are subject to the same land use and zoning requirements. There are already a number of cannabis testing facilities operating within the state, providing their services to medicinal cannabis facilities. Under the newly enacted law, currently licensed medicinal cannabis testing facilities are authorized to expand their operations to include usable cannabis, provided they certify that they are able to adequately perform the tests for the two types of cannabis, and that it won’t impede their ability to provide medicinal testing.
Certain licensed alternative treatment centers are deemed to concurrently hold certain class of cannabis licenses, which would authorize them to offer their services for non-medicinal purposes. Put another way, certain medicinal cannabis facilities would be able to provide both medical and recreational cannabis services.
Alternative treatment centers however, cannot begin offering non-medicinal services without first receiving written approval from the municipality in which the proposed establishment or delivery service, or distributor is located.
The consumption of cannabis items through smoking, vaping, or aerosolizing is prohibited in all places where tobacco smoking is prohibited under the NJ Smoke-Free Air Act, and any indoor public place as that term is defined in N.J.S.A. 26:3D-57 such as bars, restaurants and sport venues, to name just a few.
A municipality may adopt an ordinance making it unlawful for any person 21 years of age or older to consume cannabis through other means, (i.e., edibles) in a public place, including any indoor public place as the term is defined in N.J.S.A. 26:3D-57. Because of the broad definition of public place as defined by N.J.S.A. 26:3D-57, a municipality in effect has the authority to restrict the consumption by any means, to a private residence.
The Law specifically prohibits a cannabis cultivator from operating or being located on land that is valued, assessed or taxed as an agriculture or horticultural use pursuant to the Farmland Assessment Act of 1964.
No. Under current law, medical or recreational cannabis cannot be planted, propagated, cultivated, grown, harvested, processed, or sold on property preserved under New Jersey’s Farmland Preservation Program. The Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, P.L. 2021, c. 16 (N.J.S.A. 24:6I-31, et seq.), prohibits medical cannabis and recreational cannabis cultivators from operating or locating an operation on land that is farmland assessed. Because eligibility for farmland assessment is a requirement for farms to enter the state’s preservation program, once a farm is preserved, a landowner cannot engage in uses which would disqualify the property for farmland assessment.
No, the Right to Farm Act requires that commercial farms be in compliance with all applicable federal or State statutes or rules and regulations to qualify for right-to-farm protection. Because growing cannabis is prohibited by federal law, the growing and processing of cannabis is not protected under the Right to Farm Act.
For information on subscribing to the League's magazine click here. To view a list of other publications available, click here
The magazine is mailed out between the 1st through the 5th of each month (for example, the February issue is mailed out between February 1st-5th). You should expect to receive your copy sometime shortly after that time frame.
Please contact NJLM's Subscription Manager, Tom Fratticcioli.
Click here to view an editorial calendar with deadlines (PDF). For information on submitting articles to NJLM's magazine click here.
Display advertising is available for purchase in the magazine. The magazine also features a Business Directory in the back of each. Click here for more information.
The Attorney General has advised that attorneys acting in their advisory roles as attorneys to records custodians are not subject to discipline under the Open Public Records Act because the practice of law in New Jersey is regulated and its practitioners are disciplined exclusively by the state Supreme Court. However, if an individual is acting as a record custodian and violates OPRA, the fact that he or she is a New Jersey attorney will not insulate him or her from discipline under OPRA. It is the practice of law that is not subject to OPRA sanctions, because it is subject to other regulation instead. Individuals who happen to be attorneys are not given "special treatment" just because they are attorneys.
Yes. Email sent by municipal employees is subject to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) under the same conditions that regular mail or other written communications by these employees are covered by the Act. It is the subject matter of the email, rather than where it originated or where it is stored, that determines whether it is a "public record" under OPRA. If it discusses official municipal business and the subject matter is not protected by an exemption under the law, then it can be requested and must be released under OPRA.
No. Recent case law indicates that he may well be able to use the Open Public Records Act in this manner, to supplement the Rules of Discovery or even instead of the usual discovery process. In the case of Mid-Atlantic Recycling Technologies, Inc. v. City of Vineland, Law Div. (Stanger, A.J.S.C.), an unpublished opinion, the plaintiff sought documents under Open Public Records Act (OPRA) relating to its federal suit claiming the city selectively enforces environmental claims. The Court ordered the City to turn over the 12,000 pages of documents requested. Judge Stanger rejected Vineland's claim that this use of OPRA was a circumvention of discovery rules.In the related federal case in the District of New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic Recycling Technologies, Inc. v. City of Vineland, et al., U.S. District Court (Donio, U.S.M.J.), the Court denied the defendant's request for a protective order to prevent plaintiff from obtaining the records in question under OPRA. The Court found that Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure did not, as defendant claimed, override a litigant's right to obtain documents under OPRA from a governmental entity that is a party to the litigation.Therefore, municipalities should honor an otherwise valid OPRA request from an opposing party in litigation related to the subject matter of the litigation.
The privileged information can be redacted from the bills, but an explanation for its exemption from disclosure under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) must be given. An unexplained claim of "attorney-client privilege" alone may not be enough. Of course, the challenge is to give a sufficient explanation to support the claim of privilege without revealing your client's privileged information.This is a common problem, and many attorneys are switching to billing that contains no confidential information. After all, the bill detail is for the benefit of the client, and the client can always view the information in their file that is totally covered by attorney-client privilege to learn the confidential details of their legal representation. Put in the billing records only the information needed to justify the billing and maintain a separate file memoranda which can contain the privileged information.
Executive Order 26, 4. (b) (3) does say that, for purposes of the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), an individual's financial information is not a public record, "...except as otherwise required by law to be disclosed." The Local Public Ethics Law, NJ.S.A. 40A: 9 to 22.1 et seq., is just such a law requiring financial disclosure by municipal officials. The whole point of the filing of these statements is to require openness about financial information from public servants. Therefore, these Financial Disclosure Statements are considered government records and must be released to requesters under the Open Public Records Act.
Yes, under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) you must release this information. Similarly, employment contracts between municipal officials and the municipality, and professional invoices submitted to a municipal government are also accessible under OPRA (although certain confidential information may have to be redacted). When individuals become public officials or employees, some information concerning them becomes open to the public in a way it would not be if they worked in the private sector only. This has always been true to some extent, but more such information is open to public scrutiny now that OPRA is in place.
The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requires records be provided in the medium requested, if the town keeps the record in that medium. If it does not, it must convert the records to the medium requested and then provide it. NJ.S.A. 47:1A-5(d). However, the town may charge you not only the costs of duplication but "a special charge that shall be reasonable and shall be based on the cost for any extensive use of information technology, or for the labor cost of personnel providing the service, that is actually incurred by the agency or attributable to the agency for the programming, clerical, and supervisory assistance required, or both."N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(i) states that a requested record must be provided within seven business days, unless the record is in storage or archived. No exception is made for a delay due to changing the medium. However, several cases have found that a delay is justified and no violation occurred when the request required an extraordinary expenditure of labor and costs and a response within the seven day period would have substantially disrupted operations. NJ. Builders Association v. NJ. Council on Affordable Housing, 390 NJ. Super. 166 (App. Div. 2007).
According to rulings of the Government Records Council and the Appellate Division, this request is not an appropriate Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request. OPRA requests must be for specific, identifiable records, rather than information. The requester cannot require that the records custodian do research to find all records on a broad topic like the one you describe. In Reda v. Twp. of West Milford, GRC Complaint No. 2002-58 (January 17, 2003), an individual asked for information regarding a municipality's liability settlements, but did not request specific records. The GRC rejected the request, noting that the custodian is only required to retrieve records, and the requester must do any research and analysis required.The Appellate Division reversed the Law Division order requiring defendant to comply with an improper OPRA request in MAG Entertainment. LLC v. Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, 375 NJ Super 534 (App. Div. 2005). The requester asked for all records concerning ABC suspensions of liquor licenses for serving liquor to an intoxicated person in connection with a fatal auto accident or concerning such suspensions for more than 45 days for "lewd or immoral activity." In denying the request, the Court said "...OPRA does not countenance open-ended searches of an agency's files...(T)he request failed to identify with any specificity or particularity the governmental records sought..."Similarly, the request that was made to you is not an appropriate OPRA request. You should explain to the requester in your denial why you cannot comply with the request as given. If he can identify the records sufficiently so that you can retrieve them without extensive research and analysis, then you should, of course, do so.
Yes and no. In the case of Renna v. County of Union, 407 NJ.Super. 230,, (App. Div. 2009), the Court said: "We hold that all requests for OPRA records must be in writing; that such requests shall utilize the forms provided by the custodian of the records; however, no custodian shall withhold such records if the written request for such records, not presented on the official form, contains the requisite information prescribed in NJ.S.A. 47:1A-5(f)."The Court stated that requests should be made on the form provided by the custodian of records, but that, so long as all the required information is present, failure to use the form cannot result in a refusal to withhold the records.The Court went on to say: "In the event the submitted writing, exclusive of the form, is insufficient for the custodian to fulfill its statutory responsibility, such as the record may not be subject to OPRA or the request does not contain sufficient information, the custodian may require the requester to complete the official form."
Yes. In 2006, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that a plaintiff who filed suit under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) could qualify as a "prevailing party" for award of counsel fees under the Act even though the case had been settled. In Cynthia Teeters v. the Division of Youth and Family Services, 387 NJ. Super. 423 (App. Div. 2007) the Court supported its findings with case law demonstrating the State's history of liberal construction of fee shifting provisions as well as its encouragement of the settlement process.The Court emphasized that in this case a satisfactory settlement was reached only because of the plaintiff's efforts in filing suit, and the plaintiff's actions were thus the "catalyst" that allowed her to prevail in obtaining the records she sought. The Court said: "Petitioner engaged in reasonable efforts to pursue her access rights to the records in question. She sought attorney assistance only after her self-filed complaints and personal efforts were unavailing. With that assistance, she achieved a favorable result that reflected an alteration of position and behavior on the Division's part."The Court went on to point out that not awarding counsel fees in a settlement situation would put the plaintiff in a worse economic position than if she continued to litigate, and this result would not serve the state policy encouraging settlement of litigation. Furthermore, the history of OPRA indicated that a liberal application of its attorney fee provisions is appropriate. "It is also clear that the repeal of NJ.S.A. 47:1A-4, shortly after NJ.S.A. 47:1A-6 and -7 were adopted, was a renunciation of a narrower attorney's fees rule (i.e., embodying a prerequisite for a court order requiring disclosure, a limitation to $500, and a discretionary authority in the trial court) in favor of the broader, mandatory standard of entitlement based on the sole test of ‘prevail[ing] in any proceeding,' and subject to a rule of reasonableness with no expressed monetary limitation."
Yes. When we look at the statistics, the scope of the problem can be intimidating. Please review our full answer on our related page.
For well over 10 years now, however, it has been standard operating procedure to give our State’s struggling citizens less. Learn more on our related page.
Because the State establishes tax policy for all levels of government in New Jersey, and because the State has made itself the collection agent for many taxes that used to be locally assessed and collected. Learn more on our tax relief data page.
The lion’s share of the money that municipalities receive from the State is a replacement for funds that were originally collected by the municipalities and provided direct sources of municipal revenue. Learn more on our tax relief data page.
Yes. But there is a limit to what can be reduced. Police salaries and benefits often represent the biggest components of municipal budgets. These salaries are often set by arbitrators, pursuant to State Law. Review the other factors of this budgeting process.
Yes, and they are doing so. No municipal official wants to raise taxes. In addition to their commitment to their constituents, they are also motivated by an enlightened self-interest. See the rest of this answer on our definitions page.
Policy makers in Trenton need to recognize the fact that there is a connection between property tax relief funding and property tax relief. New Jersey local governments need significant, dependable, sustainable sources of revenue, other than property taxes. View more on this on our related page.
State government and local governments share responsibilities and resources. Both the State and local governments (municipalities, counties and school districts) must provide a variety of important public services. But the ability of each of these levels of government differs greatly.
Unlike the State, local governments have few revenue options available to pay for services. This has resulted in the continued heavy reliance on property taxation as the major source of revenue for municipalities, counties and school districts. Because the value of property varies widely from municipality to municipality, many local governments are unable to meet local service needs.
View our Taxpayer dollar explanation document (PDF).
Municipalities, counties and school districts need enough money to pay for the many essential services that they provide. Paying for and providing many of these services (including, for example, education, transportation, law enforcement and environmental protection) is a joint responsibility of state government and local governments. But New Jersey local governments are not only responsible for delivering most of these services; they also bear the primary responsibility for financing them.
In the area of education, for example, local property taxpayers pay most of the costs, even though the State has a Constitutional obligation to ensure a thorough and efficient education for all of our children. Historically, the State’s share of K-12 public school expenditures is around 40%. State law limits how local governments can raise money. Other than State and Federal funding, New Jersey local governments have only property taxes and limited user fees (charges imposed upon residents and businesses that use or receive a specific service).
We call it municipal property tax relief funding, and not “State aid,” for this reason: the lion’s share of the money that municipalities receive from the State is a replacement for funds that were originally direct sources of municipal revenue. From Public Utility Gross Receipts and Franchise Taxes, now distributed as Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief, to Business Personal Property Taxes, Financial Business Taxes and Class II Railroad Property Taxes, all of which have been folded into Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid, these revenues were intended for municipal use from their beginnings. When the State, at the request and for the convenience of the taxpaying businesses, became the collection agent for these taxes, it pledged to redistribute the funds back to local governments.
So, from our perspective, these do not constitute new “aid” from the Treasurer of New Jersey. Instead, we see them as local revenues, temporarily displaced. View this related page for similar information.
User fees and other non-tax revenue provide a minimal support to New Jersey local governments and can only be used for certain specified purposes. They cannot, by State law, be used to offset the costs of most services, such as police protection, snow removal, public education or maintenance of public facilities. Furthermore, user fees limit the availability of services for those who cannot afford to pay.
According to State sources, in Fiscal Year 2001, the State provided municipalities with about $1.604 billion in general property tax relief funding. In the State’s last Fiscal Year (2005), the figure was around $1.682 billion (which includes $2.5 million in Taxpayer Hero Grants that were appropriated, but never distributed). Though we appreciate the State’s struggle to provide a little less than a 5% increase in tough budgetary times; at about half the rate of inflation, that’s hardly enough to help us to stem the property tax crisis.
The property tax accounts for over 40% of total State and local tax revenue in our State. The National average is just slightly above 30%. In 2002, the New Jersey per capita property tax burden amounted to $1,887 - almost doubling the National average of $979. New Jersey property taxes equaled 5%, as a percentage of personal income - almost 2 points above the National average of 3.2%. And in our State, those with the least shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden. Households with incomes in the lowest 20 % pay 9.2% of their earnings in property taxes, while the wealthiest 20 % pay 3.6% of their income through this assessment.
Yes, but there is a limit to what can be reduced. Police salaries and benefits often represent the biggest components of municipal budgets. The salaries are often set by arbitrators, pursuant to State Law. And the post-retirement benefits are also often mandated by the State. Education costs make up the largest portion of the average property tax bill. And much of that is spent for compliance with State laws and regulations. New Jersey local officials make difficult choices to keep the lid on property taxes every year. Last year the statewide total county tax levy was $3.5 billion. The total municipal levy was $4.7 billion. The total school district levy was $10.2 billion. In 2003, the county levy was $3.1 billion. The municipal levy was $4 billion. The school levy was $8.8 billion.
Average property taxes for 2004, as calculated by the State’s Division of Local Government Services, increased by 6.33% over the 2003 average. And the average property tax rate actually decreased from 3.027 to 3.021. This restraint has been achieved despite the fact that a large percentage of municipal, school district and county spending is mandated by State law, such as these examples, much of this is largely removed from local control:
The underlying demand for local public services continues to increase, and the costs continue to rise with inflation and population growth. Without commensurate increases in relief funding, increases in property taxes are inevitable.
Yes. And they are doing so. No municipal official wants to raise taxes. In addition to their commitment to their constituents, they are also motivated by an enlightened self-interest (They pay property taxes, too.) and by a desire to remain in the public’s service beyond the next election. Local budgets are subject to intense public scrutiny. Inflation alone forces municipalities to spend more, just to maintain current service levels. But aside from inflation, local expenditures are driven by demographics. Public school enrollments are on the rise. And service demands related to the aging of the “baby boom” generation will also increase on into the future.
There are a number of ways, such as:
Municipal governments, through the local boards of health, are granted broad authority to manage public health emergencies and are given an array of tools to curtail the spread of communicable disease.
By statute (N.J.S.A. 26:3-1), every municipality in New Jersey is required to provide a program of public health services meeting standards of performance as determined by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services. These standards are defined by the Department in the Public health Practice Standards of Performance for Local Boards of Health in New Jersey (N.J.A.C. 8:52). A municipality may meet this requirement by:
Most of New Jersey’s municipalities participate in some sort of shared agreement to meet their statutory requirement of providing a local board of health. Very few municipalities have their own board of health. So, while New Jersey consists of 565 municipalities, there are far fewer local health departments.
It is through the local boards of health, whatever form they may be, that municipal officials will address public health emergencies such as communicable diseases and epidemics.
Visit the State of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub at www.covid19.nj.gov.
Visit the State of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub at www.covid19.nj.gov.
A municipality, when deemed necessary by its local board of health, may appropriate to the local board additional funds needed to address an epidemic. If the funds are not available, a municipality may borrow the needed money. The statutory authority for this is laid out in N.J.S.A. 26:3-44 provides that:
Whenever an epidemic of any contagious or infectious disease exists or is threatened, or any special need arises for the protection of the public health, and in the judgment of the local board of health of any municipality the expenditure of a greater sum than that already appropriated to the local board for the current year is necessary, the local board shall so certify to the body having control of the finances of the municipality. Thereupon the body having control of the finances of such municipality may appropriate such sum as the local board may certify to be necessary. If the funds at the disposal of the governing body of the municipality are not sufficient for such purpose, it may borrow the sum on the credit of the municipality. In such event the governing body shall place an amount equal to the sum borrowed with interest in the next annual tax levy, and with the money so raised shall pay the debt incurred.
The Government Records Council (GRC) has issued a Special Statement (PDF) regarding P.L. 2020, c.10 and COVID-19 impacts on the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
In addition, the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) has also offered the following recommendations, “when responding to OPRA requests, local government records custodians document in writing any emergency-related barriers to providing the requestor with a final response within the standard OPRA response timeframe. Examples of such barriers can include building access restrictions or a delay in the availability of personnel needed to provide responsive records to the custodian or review responsive records to determine necessary redactions. As when requesting an extension of time to respond under normal circumstances, the custodian should inform the requestor in writing of the specific reasons for the delay, as well as soonest possible date after the normal statutory deadline by which the custodian reasonably expects to respond under the circumstances. To the greatest extent possible, the custodian’s initial response to the requestor should adhere to the standard timeline for an OPRA request response.”
This information should be reviewed with your municipal records custodian and municipal attorney for further guidance.
Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 120 moving the June primary election from June 2, 2020 to Tuesday, July 7, 2020. In addition, any election scheduled between May 13, 2020 and July 7, 2020 is postponed and rescheduled to July 7, 2020. All statutory deadlines for primary election, except for deadlines that occur prior to April 11, 2020, for a primary election must be calculated using the July 7, 2020. The petition for independent candidates for the general election is 4:00 p.m. on July 7, 2020.
As a result of changing the April school board elections to May, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 116 extending certain statutory deadlines for school districts with elections postponed until May. The executive order extends the statutory time period for the municipal governing bodies to review defeated school budgets. The deadline to submit a certified tax levy to the county board of taxation is extended to June 9, 2020.Finally, the order extends the terms of board of education members whose terms are due to expire at the first organization meeting following the April election to the first organization meeting following the May 12 election. The terms of board of education members elected at the May 12 election will run as though they had taken office at the first organization meeting following the April election.The order took effect on April 7, 2020.
Visit the U.S. Department of Treasury’s CARES Act information webpage. The League also has posted several blog posts relating to the CARES Act.
Governor Murphy issued Administrative Order 2020-08 which authorizes local governments to impose additional restrictions on hotels, motels, guest houses, and private residences for certain guests or seasonal tenants.
Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 115 permitting retirees to return to public employment as part-time, full-time, or special law enforcement for the duration of the public health emergency.The Executive Order permits retirees to return to employment by government agencies in any capacity without having to re-enroll in any retirement system, if the person retired before April 6, 2020, the retiree has been separated at least 30 days, and their return is needed because of COVID-19 pandemic. For more on Executive Order 115 please see the Town Crier blog.
The State Division of Fire Safety has issued operational guidance for local enforcing agencies, providing them with information and suggestions and how fire code enforcement operations should proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services (DLGS), has issued Local Operational Guidance which provides guidance for remote public meetings.
In addition, DLGS has issued Operational Guidance which provides additional recommendations on hosting remote public meetings with a specific focus on planning boards and zoning boards of adjustments.
Visit the Town Crier blog post on Budget Deadline Extended, Levy Cap Exemption & Estimated Tax Bills.
The League has created a COVID-19 webpage, which was created as a central source for all resources we are posting. The League is also posting updates of news and new legislation and guidance daily on the Emergency Management & Public Health News Flash. You may sign up to receive email alerts when new items are posted, or visit the League’s COVID-19 resource page to view news flash items. Many of these items are also being posted on the League’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. There have also been several posts published on the League’s Town Crier blog that gives detailed explanations and analysis of the legislation surrounding COVID-19.
Since women make up more than 50 percent of the total population, one standard might be that women should hold half the elected positions, but obviously there is no agreement on what is the right number or the number that might indicate progress in achieving better representation. Given its education and income level of the state's population, New Jerseyans might expect that women would comprise a larger percentage of elective officials in their state.
Another aspect is what appears to be the "pipeline problem." The low number of women mayors raises questions about how well the base is built for women to move on to higher office. On the other hand, more than a third of the county offices are held by women, but apparently this does not lead to moving on to the legislature.
In discussing numbers of women in office, the question arises about why we should care that more women serve in elected positions. Three ways of answering that question are:
The matter of fairness becomes particularly important when addressing the barriers to women achieving elective office and raises the questions of why they are not included in an affirmative manner. As for talent, this concept, which encompasses knowledge and experience, recognizes that women have a demonstrated track record of educational achievement, and leadership in political and civic affairs that is useful to society and therefore should not be ignored.
Making a difference means that having women elected officials shapes a different outcome in the public policy process. Research studies, including seminal studies conducted by the Center for American Women and Politics, show that "despite differences in party control, political climate, and ideology...., the presence of women made a difference in shaping the terms of debate and in the public policy outcomes."
The concept of "more" also implies that there are actions that can be taken to up the percentages of women holding elective office. Once women achieved the right to vote, the next effort was to promote the women's role in government and prepare them for public office. Read more about strategy and leadership on Increase the Numbers page.
Given all the efforts women have organized to attain political office and the evidence they have marshaled that women's involvement makes a difference, why doesn't it happen? The reasons are probably embedded in our political structure. Find out more on the Barriers page.