Feb 20

Division Issues Guidance on Levy Cap Referendums

Posted on February 20, 2020 at 12:17 PM by Legislative Staff

The Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) has issued Local Finance Notice 2020-02 providing specific instruction and direction to municipalities considering holding a public referendum on exceeding the 2% Levy Cap or the 2.5% Appropriation Cap.  If your municipality is considering a public referendum we suggest that you review this Local Finance Notice with your professional staff.

The various deadlines for the referendum process are determined by the date the election is held. If the municipality has a Type II board of education the election is held on April 21, regardless when the school board elections are held. If the municipality holds a non-partisan election in May and has an upcoming election then the election is held on May 12. If there is no upcoming non-partisan election then the referendum election is held on April 21. Please note that municipalities with a population under 500 can choose to have a vote by mail election pursuant to N.J.S.A. 19:62-1 et seq.

 A summary of Municipal Levy Referendum deadlines:

Referendum Event

Municipal Levy Cap Referendum on April School Election Date (Partisan)

Municipal Levy Cap Referendum on May Non-Partisan Election

Publication of Notice of Availability of Mail-In Ballots

*Please note that this notice does not bind the municipality to hold an election and does not need to include the referendum amount

February 25

March 17

Submit requests for approval of municipal referendum narrative to Division of Local Government Services

March 20

April 10

Latest date to introduce municipal budget

March 30

April 22

Last date of passage of resolution setting the referendum question (amount) and sending copy to: County Clerk, School Board Secretary (if school vote also taking)place)

March 30

April 22

Deadline to send resolution setting the referendum question to Division of Local Government Services

April 1

April 23

Last date to cancel a planned referendum

March 30

April 22

Latest date to publish municipal budget

April 9

April 30

Election Date

*Please note that the polls must be opened from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

April 21

May 12

Decision of Board of Canvassers

April 29

May 15

Throughout the process the governing body must take the following action:

  • Pass a resolution by simple majority authorizing a “Notice of Availability of Mail-In Ballots”. Please note that due to time constraints the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) suggests that if the governing body is considering a public question but has not yet made a final decision the notice should be published.
  • Introduce the municipal budget not later than March 30 for the April vote and April 22 for the May vote. The budget must reflect tax levy and provisions of a planned referendum
  • Publication of the introduced budget must be no later than April 9 for the April vote and April 30 for the May vote.
  • Pass a resolution authorizing the referendum question no later than the close of business on March 30 for the April election and April 22 for the May election. This resolution must set forth the exact language of the explanatory statement to be printed on the ballot.
  • Pass a resolution if the municipality has published the Notice of Availability of Mail-In Ballots but chooses not to have the referendum. This resolution must be given to the County Clerk no later than the close of business on March 30 for the April election and April 22 for the May election.
  • Submit a request for a narrative explanatory statement to the Director of the Division of Local Government Services by close of business on March 20 for the April election and April 10 for the May election. Please note that you can contact the Division either in writing or by conference call.
  • Adopt the final budget by May 22 for April election and June 5 for May election.

The referendum must be approved by 50% plus one vote cast to pass otherwise the question fails. If the referendum fails the governing body has the flexibility to amend the budget to meet current needs provided that the governing body initially acted in good faith. It is recommended that the municipality should plan in advance what actions it will take if the referendum is defeated and be prepare to take immediate action to adopt a budget within the 2% levy cap.

Contact: Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, lbuckelew@njlm.org, or 609-695-3481 x112.


Jan 28

Legislation Introduced Creating Open Public Records Study Commission

Posted on January 28, 2020 at 4:11 PM by Legislative Staff

Senator Corrado has introduced S-180, which establishes the Open Public Records Act Study Commission. The bill has been referenced to Senate State Government Committee. The League strongly supports S-180 and we thank Senator Corrado and Assemblyman Dancer, who has proposed the Assembly companion A-2358, for introducing this legislation based on League Conference Resolution 2018-10. The time has come for a comprehensive reform by all of the stakeholders on this 18 year old law.

The 14 member Commission is tasked with:

  • reviewing OPRA and examining how the statute compares with actual operation and use;
  • evaluating how advancements in technology, administrative decisions, and court rulings have impacted OPRA;
  • analyzing how OPRA requests are balanced with the public’s right to privacy;
  • examining how OPRA has been used for commercial, marketing, business, and research purposes; 
  • studying the advantages and disadvantages of expanding access to law enforcement records;
  • researching public records statutes and their operation and use, both positive and negative, of other states;
  • considering such other matters relating to OPRA as the members of the commission may deem appropriate; and
  • making recommendations for legislation or such other action as it deems appropriate with regard to improving, expanding, and facilitating OPRA.

The Commission must have their initial meeting within 45 days of all the members’ appointment. At that time, the Commission will elect among themselves a chair and vice chair. The Chair has the authority to appoint a secretary, who need not be a member of the Commission. The Commission will have one year to submit Reports and Findings to the Governor and Legislature.

The Commission must hold at least three (3) public hearings in different parts of the state and elicit testimony from the public.

The 14 member Commission, who will serve without compensation, are: 

Ex-Officio, who may appoint a designee

  • NJ Attorney General
  • Department of Community Affairs Commissioner
  • Government Records Council Executive Director

Four members appointed by the Senate President

  • Member of law enforcement
  • A person with experience with commercial requests
  • Member of the general public with interest in open and transparent government
  • County records custodian recommended by the New Jersey Association of Counties

Four members appointed by the Assembly Speaker

  • Member of New Jersey Press Association
  • Member of the general public with experience advocating for privacy rights
  • An attorney with knowledge and experience of OPRA & representing local government
  • Municipal Clerk recommended by the League of Municipalities and Municipal Clerks Association of New Jersey

Three members appointed by the Governor

  • State records custodian
  • Member of the ACLU
  • School Board records custodian recommended by the New Jersey School Board Association

The Commission will expire on the 1st day of the 13th month after the Commission submits its report to the Governor and Legislature.

Please contact your Senator and Assembly representatives urging them to pass S-180. Furthermore, if you have not done so already, please consider adopting the resolution calling for an OPRA study commission.

Contact: Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, lbuckelew@njlm.org, 609-695-3481 x112.



Tag(s): OPRA and OPMA

Jan 24

Governor Signs Various Bills of Interest

Posted on January 24, 2020 at 11:01 AM by Legislative Staff

As we reported last week, the Governor had until noon Tuesday to take action the over 200 bills sent to him at the end of the 2018-19 legislative term.  On Tuesday, the Governor signed over 150 bills into law, below is a summary of the new laws that have a municipal impact.

P.L. 2019, c. 368 (A-1028) establishes an in-service training program to prevent suicide by law enforcement officers. To be administered every five years, the training curriculum will include, but not be limited to, the causes, behaviors, warning signs, and risk factors associated with officer suicide.  In addition, in the unfortunate circumstance when there is a police officer suicide, the police chief must report the officer’s death to the Attorney General within a reasonable time of the suicide. The statute outlines the reporting requirements. The League supported this bill as it will provide police officers with training on the causes, behaviors, warning signs, and risk factors associated with officer suicide. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 466 (A-1478) would permit a municipality, upon approval of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, to issue a plenary retail consumption license to theaters with 50 but less than 1,000 seats. The theater must be a nonprofit corporation that regularly conducts musical or theatrical performances or concerts. Consumption is permitted during performances and intermission. In addition, consumption can occur during the two hours immediately preceding not more than 15 performances a year.  A retail consumption license issued under these circumstances is not considered as part of the cap on the number of licenses a municipality may issue. The League supported this new law, which is now in effect.

P.L. 2019, c. 490 (A-4822) allows municipalities to adopt a tiny home rental ordinance to permit the use of municipal-owned vacant land for tiny home rental purposes. The rental ordinance must establish certain parameters include setbacks, zoning, and subleasing. In addition, the bill directs the Department of Community Affairs to provide enhanced regulatory guidance concerning the construction and placement of tiny homes.  Consistent with the 2018 International Residential Code, the bill defines “tiny home” as a dwelling that is 400 square feet or less in floor area excluding lofts. The League supported this new law that took effect on January 21, 2020, but requires rulemaking from the Department of Community Affairs

P.L. 2019, c. 495 (A-5023) exempts from the New Jersey Department of Transportation permitting requirements, established under the “Roadside Sign Control and Outdoor Advertising Act,” signs attached to street furniture that are located in areas that are not protected areas, that have been approved by the municipality in which they are located, and that otherwise comply with the “Roadside Sign Control and Outdoor Advertising Act.”  “Street furniture” is defined as an object placed or installed adjacent to the street for public use, which is to include but not be limited to, a bench, trash and recycling receptacle, public bicycle-sharing parking structure, phone booth, or Wi-Fi kiosk. The League supported this new law that took effect on January 21, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 5916 (A-5916) authorizes the Department of Health to notify the mayor, city administrator, and the legislative district’s Senator and Assembly representatives of the financial distress of certain hospitals. The Commissioner may appoint a monitor to prevent further financial deterioration, in which case within 30 days of the appointment notice of the appointment must be provided to the mayor, city administrator, and legislative district’s Senator and Assembly representatives.   The League supported this new law that took effect on January 21, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 376 (S-62) expands the definition of contractor in the “Public Works Contractor Registration Act” to include those who are required to pay their workers the prevailing wage by any other provision of law. This new law, which the League supported, takes effect on April 1, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 382 (S-589) requires the Secretary of State to maintain a secure Internet website to allow eligible voters to register to vote using an online voter registration form.  The bill also authorizes the use of digitized signatures from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s database, or the applicant’s digitized or electronic signature, in connection with online voter registration forms. The information on the online voter registration forms would be electronically transferred by county commissioners of registration into the statewide voter registration system already established by law.  This new law, which the League supported, takes effect on July 19, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 393 (S-1298) permits a municipality, at its sole discretion, to include on the tax bill a statement listing the number and type of shared services entered into by the municipality, the dollar value of the savings to the municipality from each of those shared services, and a total amount of municipal savings resulting from those shared services. The Division of Local Government Services has three months to promulgate the format of the statement on the tax bill. This new law, which the League supported, took effect on January 21, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 425 (S-3265) prohibits the sale or distribution of flavored vapor products. The official authorized by statute or ordinance to enforce the State or local health codes or a law enforcement officer having enforcement authority in that municipality must issue a summons for a violation of this law. Any penalty is to be recovered by and in the name of the State by the local health agency. The penalty is paid into the treasury of the municipality in which the violation occurred for the general uses of the municipality. A retailer that violates this will be liable for a civil penalty of not less than $500 for the first violation, $1,000 for the second violation, and not less than $2,000 for the third and each subsequent violation and collected in by the municipal court having jurisdiction. The League supported this new law as it addresses issues raised in League Conference Resolution 2019-22. The new law will take effect on April 20, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 433 (S-3763) renames joint meetings as regional service agencies to better reflect the purpose and operation of these entities. Any joint meeting created before January 21, 2020, is grandfathered. The common-sense legislation, which the League supported, is one of the proposals of the Path to Progress report. The new law took effect on January 21, 2020.

 

P.L. 2019, c. 406 (S-2469) prohibits a person from contracting for public works if the person is barred at the federal level. Prior to contract award for public works, the contractor must provide written certification that neither the person nor the person’s affiliates are debarred at the federal level. The contracting agency must verify the certification by consulting the federal system for Award Management prior to awarding the contract for public work. While we support the intent, we opposed the legislation due to some technical concerns to ensure consistency with the Local Public Contracts Law. The new law takes effect on February 20, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 427 (S-3422) requires the declaration of Code Blue alert when National Weather Service predicts temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or wind chill temperatures will be zero degrees Fahrenheit or less for two or more hours. The League opposed this bill, which could impose new burdens on our Code Blue providers, especially those reliant on the work of volunteers. We believe that the decision on when to call Code Blue should be made locally, and not mandated by the State. This new law took effect on January 21, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 377 (S-358) establishes a database, within the Division of Elections, about individuals elected to any public office in New Jersey. The database will include the contact information, gender identity or expression, and race of the elected public official. Within 21 days after an individual has been certified as elected, including individuals selected to fill a vacancy, the officer responsible for issuing the election certification must transmit to the individual the form developed by the Secretary of State to collect the information for the database. Division of Elections must coordinate with the county clerks and municipality to ensure that the form is transmitted to individuals elected to public offices in their county or municipality. The database must be reviewed and updated at least annually. The database must be publicly available on the Division of Elections website. The database does not apply to individuals elected to a board education, board of fire commissioners or special district. This new law takes effect on July 19, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 381 (S-521) requires the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to establish an “Artist District” designation for a municipality or an area within the municipality. A municipality may apply to the Council for designation. New Jersey State Council of the Arts must establish the criteria, including the minimum number of art-related services and venues, such as businesses, galleries, museums, organizations, performance halls, studios, theaters, or other facilities, that must be located in the municipality or the area of the municipality.  An Artist District may also constitute a concentration of certain types of art, such as dance, film, literature or writing, music, or performing or visual arts, or types of services and venues. The Council will have 60 days from the receipt of an application to review and approve, approve with conditions or reject the application.  This new law took effect on January 21, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 398 (S-1703) prohibits a municipality that issues a permit or the State from charging a disabled veteran a fee to obtain, replace, or renew the permit to operate a motorized vehicle on a beach. The law defines a “disabled veteran” as any resident of the State who has been honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active service in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States and who has been declared by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to have a service-connected disability of any degree. This new law took effect on January 21, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 399 (S-1791) requires every employer to notify their employees at the time of hiring of the rate of pay and the regular payday designated by the employer. The employer must also notify their employees of any changes in the pay rater or paydays before the time of such changes. The employer must also annually provide each employee with a statement of deductions made for each pay period. Every employer with ten or more employees, including public employers, must include the employee’s gross wages, net wages, rate of pay and if relevant to the wage calculation, the number of hours worked during the pay period. The statements may be provided electronically or in paper format. This new law takes effect on May 20, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 434 (S-3869) prohibits a municipality, county, or any other local government from imposing penalties or fines on an alarm company for a false alarm not caused by an operational error, improper installation of an alarm, or the provision of defective equipment attributable to the alarm company. This new law took effect on January 21, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. 439 (S-3939) establishes an eight-member Recycling Market Development Council within the Department of Environmental Protection. Within one year, the Council must prepare a report on the existing markets that process, reuse, or recycle collected recyclable materials; develop best management practices to reduce the contamination of collected recyclables; investigate how to stimulate the use of collected recyclables in newly manufactured products; investigate the feasibility of providing preferences for products with recycled content, including how to stimulate the use in public projects of products or materials with recycled content; and investigate methods to improve the competitiveness of the State as an exporter of recyclable materials. The report must include recommendations on changes needed to State laws or rules or regulations to stimulate the creation of domestic processing facilities, such as paper mills, and end-use manufacturers of products with recycled content. This new law took effect on January 21, 2020, and expires upon the Council’s issuance of its report.

P.L. 2019, c. 459 (S-4315) creates the “Mail-In Ballot Local Reimbursement Fund” to offset the additional direct expenditures required to implement the vote by mail law. Annually the County Clerk on or before January 1 must certify to the Department of State the total cost incurred by the county, municipalities, boards of education, and fire districts in the implementation of the vote by mail law. The law also authorized the continuation of the vote by mail law that had been invalidated by the recent Council of Local Mandates ruling. The law also amended the Council of Local Mandates law to state that “a provision of a law or part of a rule or regulation determined to be an unfunded mandate shall resume its mandatory effect if, after enactment of the law or adoption of a rule or regulation, resources are authorized to offset the additional direct expenditures required for the implementation thereof.” This new law took effect on January 21, 2020.

P.L. 2019, c. JR27 (SJR-65), effective January 21, 2020, designates annually March 19 as the “Women in Public Office Day” in New Jersey. The Governor must annually issue a proclamation calling upon public officials and the citizens of this State to observe the day with appropriate activities and programs.

P.L. 2019, c. JR28 (SJR-80), effective January 21, 2020, respectfully urges the United States Congress and the President of the United States to adhere to the federal government’s commitment to improving the reliability of Northeast Corridor rail infrastructure by providing half of the funding required to complete the Gateway Program.

P.L. 2019, c. 464 (A-1449) provides job security for an individual during a period of disability under the “Temporary Disability Benefits Law,” which is the result of an organ or bone marrow donation by the individual. An individual who experiences a period of disability, for the purposes of donating an organ or bone marrow, under the “Temporary Disability Benefits Law” will be entitled to be restored to the individual’s position of employment upon the end of the period of disability, or to an equivalent position of like seniority, status, employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.  Also, for the purposes of donating an organ or bone marrow, the bill eliminates the one week waiting period for the payment of the Temporary Disability.

P.L. 2019, c. 487 (A-4564), known as the “Voting Precinct Transparency Act,” requires each districting authority (county board of elections for election districts, district commissioners for county districts, and ward commissioners for municipal wards) to file with the Secretary of State the election district, county district, and municipal ward boundary data, as appropriate, in ESRI Shapefile format. The Secretary of State is directed to make this boundary data available on the official website of the Division of Elections for download by the public free of charge, upon implementation of a compatible Statewide Voter Registration System.  In addition, the County Clerk, within 90 days following the certification of election results, of any election, or public question voted on by the voters, make available on their official websites a table or database containing the election results compiled at the election districts level. The election results table or database would also be available for download by the public free of charge. This new law took effect on January 21, 2020.

  • Michael F. Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, mcerra@njlm.org or 609-695-3481 x120
  • Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, lbuckelew@njlm.org, 609-695-3481 x112.
  • Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, FMarshall@njlm.org or 609-695-3481 x.137.
  • Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, jmoran@njlm.org, 609-695-3481 x121.