CHAPTER 2  OFFICE OF THE MUNICIPAL CLERK

 

 

The Municipal Clerk holds one of the most important and exacting positions in municipal government.  So important, in fact, that in New Jersey 1) the position is a statutory one, 2) Municipal Clerks may attain tenure in office, and 3) Municipal Clerks must achieve certification through education and testing.

What began in 1973 as a project of self-improvement and professional growth, the Municipal Clerks' Association established the "Registered Municipal Clerk Concept Development Committee." It was this hard-working group that drafted the initial legislation calling for certification.  Originally introduced as S411/A893, prefiled in 1974 as A2659, the bill was conditionally vetoed.

For the next ten years, the Association worked with Rutgers, the State University, to enhance educational course content and to develop a voluntary certification program.  In 1983, the Association's "Registered Municipal Clerk Statute Implementation Committee" modified the initial legislation and found sponsorship for A3917, prefiled as A593, in 1984.  On May 31, 1985, Governor Thomas H. Kean signed the bill which became Chapter 174 of the Public Laws of 1985 thereby establishing the designation of Registered Municipal Clerk.

So diverse is the role of the Municipal Clerk, encompassing a myriad of state statutes and serving all levels of government, that legislation was enacted in 1991 specifically designed to define the "Core" duties of this statutory office.

 

 

I.         APPOINTMENT/TERM OF OFFICE [N.J.S.A. 40A:9-133.1]12/98

 

A.         No person shall be appointed or reappointed as a Municipal Clerk unless that person holds a Registered Municipal Clerk Certificate. 9/14/07

 

B.         Within 90 days of the occurrence of a vacancy in the office of Municipal Clerk by reason of the departure of a registered Municipal Clerk, the Governing Body may appoint a person who does not hold a registered Municipal Clerk certificate to serve as Acting Municipal Clerk for a period not to exceed one (1) year and commencing on the date of the vacancy. Any person so appointed may, with the approval of the Director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs, be reappointed as Acting Municipal Clerk for a maximum of two (2) subsequent one-year terms following the termination of the temporary appointment. No local unit shall fill the position of Acting Municipal Clerk for more than three (3) consecutive years. Time served as Acting Municipal Clerk may be credited toward the experience authorized as a substitute for the college education requirement pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.2). Time served as Acting Municipal Clerk may not be credited as time served as Municipal Clerk for the purpose of acquiring tenure pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.7). The term begins on the actual date of appointment. 9/15/10

 

 

II.        VACANCY IN THE OFFICE OF THE MUNICIPAL CLERK/ACTING MUNICIPAL CLERK [P.L. 1997, C. 279]

 

A.         In the case of a vacancy, an appointment is made for a new term and not for the unexpired term.

 

B.         Reserved.  10/31/04; 9/14/07; 10/15/10

 

C.         If an RMC has been appointed as Municipal Clerk and then vacates the office, within ninety (90) days of the date of the vacancy, the Governing Body can appoint a non-RMC as Acting Clerk for a one (1) year term.   10/31/04

 

1.         With written permission from the Director of the Division of Local Government Services, the Governing Body may appoint an Acting Clerk for two (2) additional one (1) year terms.  10/31/04

 

a.         The person being appointed for the second or third year term must complete a questionnaire from the Division of Local Government Services. Said questionnaire must be submitted with the letter from the Governing Body for the Director's review. No approvals for temporary positions will be granted without provision of these two (2) documents. [REFERENCE-October 15, 2013 GovConnect Update]  9/15/13

 

2.         Time served as Acting Clerk may not be credited as time served as Municipal Clerk for the purposes of tenure.

 

3.         A Governing Body may not appoint someone who holds an RMC certificate as an Acting Clerk.

 

D.         If a Governing Body fails or refuses to comply with this section, the Director may order the Governing Body to comply by a certain date which shall afford the Governing Body a reasonable time within which to comply.

 

 

III.      QUALIFICATIONS

 

            Required for appointment as well as for application to take the examination for certification as Registered Municipal Clerk (RMC)12/98

 

A.         At least twenty-one (21) years of age.

 

B.         Citizen of the United States.

 

C.         Of good moral character.

 

D.         In receipt of a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate accepted by the Commissioner of Education.

 

E.         Completion of at least two years of education at a college of recognized study which can be substituted with year-for-year full-time experience or the equivalent part-time experience in county or local government performing duties relative to those performed by a Municipal Clerk.   10/31/04

 

 

IV.       RE-APPOINTMENT  [N.J.S.A. 40A:9-133(b)]   9/15/10

 

The re-appointment of an incumbent Municipal Clerk within sixty (60) days of the expiration of the prior term shall date back to the expiration date of the initial term (for purposes of tenure).  If an incumbent Municipal Clerk is not reappointed at the date of expiration, it is suggested that the Municipal Clerk notify the Governing Body of the requirement to reappoint within sixty (60) days or appoint a new Municipal Clerk at completion of the sixty (60) days.   10/31/04

 

 

V.         EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS12/98

 

In addition to the above qualifications, the applicant must present proof of completion of the following courses offered through Rutgers, the State University, or similar courses offered at a college or university approved by the Division of Local Government Services of the Department of Community Affairs.

 

A.         Introduction to the Duties of the Municipal Clerk

 

B.         Advanced Duties of the Municipal Clerk

 

C.         Local Election Administration

 

D.         Information and Records Management

 

E.         Municipal Finance Administration for Municipal Clerks    10/31/04

 

 

VI.       CERTIFICATION12/98

 

A.         The Director of the Division of Local Government Services, Department of Community Affairs, conducts examinations for certification as Registered Municipal Clerk (RMC).

 

B.         All Municipal Clerk Certificates issued pursuant to this statute shall be renewed upon application, payment of the required fee, and verification that the applicant has met the requirements set forth below for recertification:

 

1.         Each renewal shall be for a period of two (2) years. 

 

2.         The renewal date shall be thirty (30) days prior to the expiration date.

 

C.         Nothing in the statute shall be construed as requiring a Governing Body to pay any of the costs an individual may incur in complying with the requirements for obtaining or renewing a Registered Municipal Clerk Certificate.

 

1.         The Governing Body, by resolution, may determine to reimburse an individual for all or any portion of the costs an individual may incur.

 

2.         Costs shall include but not be limited to the costs associated with course registration, application fees, transportation and leaves of absence.

 

 

VII.     CERTIFICATION APPLICATION12/98

 

Application for and Issuance of Registered Municipal Clerk Certificates (RMC)

 

A.         Proof of the above shall be provided on the application forms for the examinations in the manner as prescribed by the Director.

 

B.         Each application shall be accompanied by a fee in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) payable to the order of the State Treasurer.

 

C.         Upon successful completion of the examination, a Registered Municipal Clerk (RMC) certificate shall be issued for a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) payable to the order of the State Treasurer.

 

 

VIII.    RECERTIFICATION (CEU'S)12/98

 

A.         Terms of Certifications:

 

1.         All Municipal Clerks who were issued their RMC certificates prior to October 1, 1998 must be recertified by September 30, 2000 and every two (2) years thereafter.

 

2.         All Municipal Clerks who were issued their RMC certificates after October 1, 1998 must be recertified two (2) years from the date on which the certificate was issued originally, and every two (2) years thereafter.

 

B.         Each applicant for renewal of a Registered Municipal Clerk Certificate shall submit:

 

1.         On a form prescribed by the Director, furnish proof of having earned at least 2.0 continuing education units in subject areas related to the statutory duties of the Municipal Clerk and minimum contact hours as prescribed by the Director.  A continuing education unit equals ten (10) contact hours.  Contact Hours must be earned as shown in each of the following subject areas:

            10/31/04; 9/15/06; 9/15/14

 

a.         Elections-2 contact hours

b.         Finance-2 contact hours

c.         Licensing-2 contact hours

d.         Professional Development-2 contact hours

e.         Records-2 contract hours

f.          Ethics-3 contact hours

g.         The remaining seven contact hours can be earned in Information Technology, which is optional, and/or in any of the above subject areas at the preference of the Municipal Clerk.

            10/31/04; 9/15/06; 9/15/14

 

2.         Payment of a fee of fifty dollars ($50) to the order of the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey.

 

Upon submission of the above, the Director shall renew the Registered Municipal Clerk Certificate.

 

C.         Where the holder of a Registered Municipal Clerk Certificate has allowed the certificate to lapse by failing to renew the Certificate, a new application and certificate shall be required.  If application is made within six (6) months of the expiration of the Certificate, then application may be made in the same manner as renewal by the application shall be accompanied by the fee for a new application; provided, however, that such application may be made in the same manner as a renewal within twelve (12) months of the expiration of the certificate if the Director determines that either of the following circumstances prevents a certificate holder from earning the required continuing education units within six (6) months of the expiration of the certificate:

 

1.         A flood, hurricane, superstorm, tornado or other natural disaster, and a state of emergency has been declared as a result thereof by the Governor; or

 

2.         A medical event or condition.

9/15/15

 

 

IX.       CONTINUATION OF OFFICE OF MUNICIPAL CLERK  [N.J.S.A. 40A:9-133.7] 10/31/04

 

A.         A Registered Municipal Clerk who has served for three (3) consecutive years and is reappointed as Municipal Clerk cannot be removed from office except for good cause shown after a fair and impartial hearing by the Director (or designee) of the Division of Local Government Services. 10/31/04

 

B.         The definition of good cause for removal of a Municipal Clerk may include the failure of the Municipal Clerk to meet the continuing education requirements set forth in the statute.

 

 

X.         SALARIES, WAGES & COMPENSATION  [N.J.S.A. 40A:9-165]

 

            Determined by ordinance of the Governing Body for elective officials, managerial, executive and confidential employees, and in some municipalities, for all other municipal officers and employees as well.

 

A.         Unless the Governing Body can show good cause, it cannot deny an increase in salary (given to all other municipal officers and employees) to the Municipal Clerk, Tax Assessor, Chief Financial Officer or Tax Collector.

 

B.         The Governing Body cannot reduce the salary of the Municipal Clerk, Tax Assessor, Chief Financial Officer or Tax Collector unless a similar reduction is imposed for all other municipal officers and employees. 9/15/10

 

 

XI.       REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION OF REGISTERED MUNICIPAL CLERK CERTIFICATES  [N.J.S.A. 40A:9-133.5]

 

A.         Any Registered Municipal Clerk's Certification may be revoked or suspended by the Director for: 9/15/10

1.         Dishonest practices;

2.         Willful or intentional failure, neglect or refusal to comply with the Constitution or laws;

3.         Other good cause.

 

B.         The Governing Body or Chief Executive Officer of any municipality may request a review by the Director of the practices of the Municipal Clerk.

 

C.         No Certificate shall be revoked or suspended except upon a proper hearing by the Director or his designee after due notice.

 

D.         If the Certificate is revoked, such person shall be removed from office by the Director, his office declared vacant, and he shall not be eligible to hold that office nor make application for recertification for a period of five (5) years from the date of the revocation.

 

 

XII.     LEGAL DEFENSE

 

            The Governing Body shall provide for the defense of any action or legal proceeding directly related to the official duties of the Municipal Clerk except for:

 

A.         A criminal proceeding instituted on behalf of the municipality.

 

B.         A disciplinary proceeding instituted by the municipality.

 

(Members of the Legal Defense Fund of the Municipal Clerks' Association may be entitled to representation through the Fund in matters under subsections A and B.  Review and approval by the Legal Defense Committee is required.)

 

 

XIII.    DEPUTY MUNICIPAL CLERK  [N.J.S.A. 40A:9-135]

 

A.         This position may be created by ordinance adopted by the Governing Body.  Term of appointment, compensation, power, duties and functions are determined by the ordinance.

 

B.         In the absence or disability of the Municipal Clerk, the Deputy shall have all the powers of the Municipal Clerk and shall perform the functions and duties of the office.  10/31/05

 

C.         The Deputy is not covered by laws pertaining to tenure or salary, wages and compensation for Municipal Clerks.

 

D.         The Governing Body of a city of the first class having a population of not less than 240,000 persons or more than 250,000 persons according to the 2000 federal decennial census, may appoint two (2) persons to serve as Deputy Municipal Clerks and provide for appointments, compensation, term, powers, duties and functions. The Governing Body shall appoint one (1) of the Deputy Municipal Clerks to serve as Acting Municipal Clerk during the absence or disability of the Municipal Clerk, and that person shall have all the powers of the Municipal Clerk and shall perform the functions and duties of that office.  10/31/05

 

 

XIV.     CORE DUTIES  [N.J.S.A. 40A:9-133]

 

A.         SECRETARY OF THE MUNICIPAL CORPORATION

 

1.         Custodian of the municipal seal.

 

2.         Maintain custody of all minutes, books, deeds, bonds, contracts and archival records of the municipal corporation.

 

3.         Attest to the signatures of municipal officers and officials.

 

4.         Maintain receipt of service of legal documents.

 

B.         SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNING BODY

 

1.         Prepare agenda for annual Reorganization Meeting of the Governing Body.  For Governing Bodies elected for terms of office commencing January 1, the date and time of its annual organization or reorganization meeting shall be at 12:00 Noon on January 1, or at some other hour on any day during the first week in January.  [N.J.S.A. 40:45A-1]  Terms of office for Governing Body members elected under the Uniform Non-Partisan Elections Law commence at 12 Noon [N.J.S.A. 40:69A-207] on July 1, and annual organization meeting must be held on July 1 of each year. 9/15/10

 

2.         Maintain and keep new members of Governing Body aware of Rules of Order for conducting meetings including:

 

a.         What constitutes a quorum.

 

b.         Adopt a standard set of rules of order such as Robert's Rules or Cushing's Manual.

 

c.         Order of business.

 

d.         Time limit for discussion by the general public.

 

3.         Prepare meeting agenda at the discretion of the Governing Body, be present at all meetings of the Governing Body.

 

4.         Keep an official record of the proceedings of every meeting, retain the original copies of all minutes, ordinances and resolutions.

 

5.         Process, record, file and, when necessary, advertise ordinances, resolutions and the municipal budget.

 

6.         Administer and record oaths of office:  10/31/04

 

a.         Before assuming office, every person elected or appointed shall take and subscribe to an oath of office.

 

b.         The oaths shall be filed with the Municipal Clerk and preserved as a public record for a period of five (5) years after termination of office.

 

7.         Maintain custody of all official records not specifically handled by other departments.

 

8.         Act as liaison to the public and correspondent on behalf of the Governing Body.

 

C.         CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER OF ALL ELECTIONS held in the municipality

 

1.         Certify vacancies at a local level.

 

2.         Maintain receipt of nominating petitions and certification to the County Clerk of local candidates nominated by petition.

 

3.         Exercise quasi-judicial authority in determining the validity of petitions.

 

4.         Conduct the drawing for positions of candidates on the local ballot.

5.         Furnish material for local elections.

 

6.         Suggest polling places.

 

7.         Maintain receipt of election results.

 

8.         Certify to the County Clerk persons elected to partisan county committee offices in each election district.

 

9.         Canvass the votes for and certify election of candidates for municipal office in non-partisan local governments.

 

D.         CHIEF REGISTRAR OF VOTERS in the municipality

 

E.         ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER with responsibilities as follows:

 

1.         Acceptance of applications for licenses and permits and the issuance of licenses and permits, except where statute or municipal ordinance has delegated that responsibility to some other municipal officer.

 

2.         Issue assessment search certificates.

 

3.         Conduct business with other municipal departments as directed by the Governing Body.

 

4.         Purchase equipment and supplies when required.

 

5.         Maintain personnel records when required.

 

6.         Certify to the municipality's Bond Counsel as to the proper advertising, filing of Supplemental Debt Statement and that no protests have been filed with the municipality as to the adoption of bond ordinances.

 

            9/15/19

 

Helpful tip: See reference material LFN 2013-03; New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services; http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/local_fin_notices.html
9/15/14

 

 

F.         RECORDS COORDINATOR AND MANAGER responsible for implementing local archives and records retention programs as mandated.

 

G.         OTHER DUTIES that may be imposed by state statutes and regulations or municipal ordinances or regulations.

 

 

XV.       PROFESSIONALISM AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

 

The Municipal Clerk of New Jersey must continually strive for professional developments.  A number of organizations are available to provide each Municipal Clerk with "networking" opportunities as well as opportunity for continuing education, research services and legislative support.  All Municipal Clerks and Deputy Municipal Clerks are encouraged to join these organizations and participate in their sponsored activities.  In addition to the three organizations listed below, Municipal Clerks are also encouraged to join their County Municipal Clerks' Associations.

 

A.         Municipal Clerks' Association of New Jersey, Inc. (MCANJ) 9/15/10; 9/15/18

 

            MCANJ Executive Board members can be contacted through the website at www.njclerks.org

 

MCANJ, whose membership is made up of NJ Municipal Clerks, Deputies, County Clerks and Freeholder Clerks, sponsors educational programs and conferences throughout the year.  Working with Rutgers University, MCANJ sponsors educational programs at the spring and fall conferences, as well as educational seminars throughout the year and at the annual New Jersey State League of Municipalities Conference.

 

MCANJ also publishes the QUILL quarterly, which brings to its members up-to-date information regarding education, legislative concerns of the Municipal Clerk and recent court decisions which affect local government and the functions of the Municipal Clerk. 

 

In addition to the scholarship fund program for continuing education for new and experienced Municipal Clerks, and the mentoring program "Peer Alliance for Learning" (PAL) which provides a tremendous networking program for new appointees, membership in MCANJ provides a much-valued networking program for all participants.

 

All members of MCANJ are qualified to join this Association's Legal Defense Fund and are encouraged to do so.

 

B.         International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) 9/15/10

8331 Utica Avenue, Suite 200

Phone: (909) 944-4162

Toll Free: (800) 251-1639

Fax: (909) 944-8454

 

www.iimc.com 10/31/04

 

The IIMC conducts an educational program for the international certification of the Municipal Clerk, known as the Certified Municipal Clerk designation (CMC).  Services include a monthly newsletter, an annual conference and publication of research reports pertinent to the Municipal Clerk's function.  In addition to IIMC's monthly publication, The News Digest, two publications should be part of the Municipal Clerk's library - The Language of Local Government and Roll Call, Strategy for a Professional Clerk.

 

C.         New Jersey State League of Municipalities 9/15/10

222 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608

Phone - (609) 695-3481    Fax: (609) 695-0151

WWW.NJSLOM.ORG     9/15/06

 

The League serves New Jersey municipalities and local government officials.  Services include a Bureau of Municipal Information, ordinance and code files, research services and a legislative committee which protects the welfare of municipal government through careful study of all bills and resolutions.  The League's many publications include New Jersey Municipalities, the League magazine.

 

 

XVI.     APPOINTED MUNICIPAL OFFICERS  (Relocated from Chapter 10,  10/31/04)

 

The following is an outline of the background and functions of the principal municipal appointed officials.

 

A.         Chief Administrative Officer (C.A.O.) - This is an appointed position and although the specific title varies according to the form of government (manager, business administrator, municipal administrator), the C.A.O. generally coordinates the departmental activities of the municipality. Specific powers vary by form of government and provisions of the municipality's administrative code, but usually include responsibilities for personnel and the purchasing system. Many C.A.O.s hold a masters degree in public or business administration. In some forms of government the municipal manager is the chief executive officer (C.E.O.).

 

B.         Chief Financial Officer (C. F. O.) - The C.F.O. is responsible for the preparation of the Annual Financial Statement, Annual Debt Statement, and Balance Sheet. The C.F.O. is also responsible for all general financial matters such as budget execution, bond issuance, investments, and revenue analysis. The person holding this position also prepares the official municipal budget based on spending decisions made by the business administrator, manager, mayor, and ultimately the governing body. The position of comptroller is used to denote the C.F.O. in the town form of government (and in some cities). The functions are similar to the C.F.O. in other forms of government, including budget control and all other general fiscal functions.

 

C.         Municipal Attorney (Corporation Counsel) - The Municipal Attorney is an appointed position carrying a one-year term, unless otherwise provided by law. The attorney provides legal counsel to the governing body and appointed officials. Also, in general, the attorney defends the municipality in instances of litigation.

 

D.         Municipal Engineer - The Municipal Engineer is a statutory municipal-appointed position with the individual holding a Professional Engineer's license (P.E.) and having a civil engineering background. Many municipalities have the Director of Public Works hold a P.E. and, thus, serve as the Municipal Engineer.

 

E.         Municipal Clerk - The Municipal Clerk is a mandatory position in every municipality. The principal duties are maintaining minutes and records of municipal governing body meetings, and supervising conduct of elections.

 

F.         Tax Collector - The Tax Collector must have the designation of Certified Tax Collector for permanent appointment. The Tax Collector collects taxes and other revenues. He or she also transmits tax bills and performs an annual tax sale. The functions of the Tax Collector are more fully described in the following section.

 

G.         Tax Assessor - The Tax Assessor must have the designation of Certified Tax Assessor (C.T.A.) prior to permanent appointment. The assessor must value all real property (commercial, industrial, and residential property) and maintain adequate property records. The functions of the Tax Assessor are more fully described in the following section.

 

 

 

 

 

Mandatory (M)

 

 

 

 

Method of

Term of

or Permissive (P)

Certification

 

Statutory

Officer

Selection

Office

Position

Required

Tenure

Source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finance Officer

Appointed

4 yrs

M

Yes

Yes

40A:9-140.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treasurer:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  In General

Appointed

 

M

Yes (as CFO)

 

 

Comptroller

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Town

Appointed

3 yrs

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tax Collector

Appointed by

4 yrs

M

Yes

Yes

40A:9-141-145.12

 

Governing Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

or CEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tax Assessor

Appointed

4 yrs

M

Yes

Yes

40A:9-146-148.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Municipal Clerk

Appointed

3 yrs

M

Yes

Yes

40A:9-133

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attorney 9/15/13

Appointed

1 yr

 

Yes*

No

40A:9-139

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auditor 9/15/13

Appointed

1 yr

M

Yes**

No

40A:5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Engineer

Appointed

3 years

M

Yes

No

40A:9-140

 

 

unless

 

 

 

 

 

 

otherwise

 

 

 

 

 

 

specified

 

 

 

 

 

 

by law

 

 

 

 

*Must be licensed attorney

**Must be an RMA-Registered Municipal Auditor

 

 

XVII.   INTERACTION WITH STATE AGENCIES

 

Municipalities interact with numerous state agencies, which have broad oversight powers as well as providing assistance to municipalities and counties which impact on the policies and operations of the local unit. The following are some of the state agencies, which interact with municipalities and their major functions:

 

Department of Community Affairs    9/14/07

    Division of Local Government Services – Financial and Managerial Assistance    9/14/07

    Division of Housing – Housing Inspection

 

Department of Treasury

    Division of Pensions – Pension Reporting

    Division of Taxation – Tax Assessment Management

Division of Elections

Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control

Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission

Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services 9/15/17

 

A.         THE DIVISION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES

 

The Division is the most active state agency on local government financial and management functions. New Jersey has long had a system of state supervision of local government finance under the control of the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS).

 

1.         INTERNAL ORGANIZATION OF DIVISION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES

 

There is a three-bureau organization of the Division of Local Government Services.  The following are the major responsibilities of the bureaus:

 

a.         Bureau of Financial Regulation and Assistance- provides fiscal oversight and essential services in designated areas affecting the responsiveness and accountability of local governments. These are as follows:

 

(1)        Financial Regulation - enforces the Local Bond Law, Local Budget Law, and Local Fiscal Affairs Law; spot checks performance of local audits.

 

(2)        Budget Assistance - assists in the preparation, development, and control of local governments' budgets; develops standardized budget procedures for federal and state grant programs.

 

(3)        Financial investigation and inspection - conducts audits of urban aid funds; investigates confidential reports for director.

 

(4)        Administers the urban aid program, financial assistance to fiscally stressed cities.

 

(5)        Quality Assurance (Single Audit Section) Municipalities are required to file a single audit with the Division of Local Government Services if the total of federal grants and/or state grants is twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) or more according to NJ 87-11.

 

b.         Bureau of Local Management Services- provides local government units with advisory and technical assistance on a variety of subjects, and financial aid through several state budgeted programs. The advisory services provided by the bureau include data processing support and review of installations as well as public purchasing guidelines.

c.         Bureau of Authority Regulation-this bureau has responsibility for regulating local public authorities and special districts on matters relating to budgeting, accounting and financial reporting, as well as review of authority contracts for privatization of water supply, resource recovery, and waste treatment facilities to insure that an undue financial burden is not placed on taxpayers.

 

2.         LOCAL FINANCE BOARD

 

Currently, the Local Finance Board is comprised of seven (7) members that serve for five (5) year staggered terms.

 

The Local Finance Board is empowered to study the entire field of local government, and to promulgate rules and regulations for the interpretation and administration of state laws within the jurisdiction of the Division of Local Government Services. The board also advises the Director concerning the administration of the division, the exercise of his powers, and the problems of local government. Perhaps its most recognized responsibility is the conduct of hearings with respect to extensions of credit for municipalities who want to exceed their debt limit. These hearings serve to protect the public interest by assuring that the proposed indebtedness does not exceed the capacity of the local government to pay. The hearing is also intended to assure that the proposed facility is relevant to the public's interest. Similarly, the board holds hearings with respect to extensions of credit for Type I school districts that have utilized their total debt authorization and want to exceed the debt limit of the municipality.

 

Possibly the strongest power of the Local Finance Board is the supervision of the financial affairs of municipalities which fall under the Fiscal Supervision Act. This takes effect under any of the following conditions:

 

a.         A default exists in the payment of bond obligations or notes;

 

b.         Payments are due and owing the state, county, school districts, or special districts for more than two (2) years;

 

c.         The cash deficit of the preceding year amounts to more than four (4%) percent of the total tax levy;

 

d.         The percentage of current tax collections for two (2) successive years falls below seventy (70%) percent;

 

e.         The required budget appropriation for debt service on bonds and notes exceeds twenty-five (25%) percent of the total appropriations for operating purposes for the year just ended;

 

f.          A judicial determination of gross failure to comply with provisions of the Local Bond Law, Local Budget Law or the Local Fiscal Affairs Law which substantially jeopardizes the fiscal integrity of the municipality.

 

The Local Finance Board must also approve the creation of local authorities, review financing of proposed projects of such authorities, and make recommendations in respect to such project financing following public hearing. The board may issue orders to authorities to correct deficits or to alleviate any financial difficulties, including increasing rates or charges, or to dissolve an authority.

 

The Local Finance Board regularly issues Local Finance Notices concerning the work of the Division of Local Government Services and the problems of local government, requirements of law and regulations, along with recommendations for improvements. Previous reports have dealt with such subjects as post-audit corrective action plans, local bond law, installment payments ("pay as you go financing"), the investment of local unit funds, surplus policy, capital budgets, the Flexible Chart of Accounts, electronic data processing, and procurement practices (P.L. 1999, c. 440).

 

B.         REGULATORY AND SERVICE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DIVISION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES (DLGS) (9/15/17)

 

1.         The Division of Local Government Services has four (4) principal responsibilities, as follows:

 

a.         Regulation of municipal, county and authority finances.

 

b.         Providing technical assistance to local governments and authorities in developing and strengthening managerial planning and financial competence.

 

c.         Research in local government finance and operations, including the distribution of data.

 

d.         Administration of various state grant and aid programs.

 

2.         Regulatory functions of the division include:

 

a.         Annual audit performed by a registered municipal accountant.   9/14/07

 

b.         Review, registration and approval of cooperative purchasing systems together with the enforcement of the Local Public Contracts Law.

c.         Examination and certification of municipal, special district and authority budgets and amendments thereto; preparation of the budget of any local unit whose budget has not been adopted within the time limits prescribed by the local budget law; and preparation and supply of forms.   9/14/07, 9/15/10

 

d.         Annual promulgation of maximum percentage increase allowed under municipal "cap" law and enforcement of the law in relation to annual budgets.   9/14/07

 

e.         Review of the annual financial statements.   9/14/07

 

f.          Review of the annual debt statement.   9/14/07

 

g.         Issuance of regulations and forms for the preparation of local capital improvement program and capital budget.   9/14/07

 

h.         Review and approval (or disapproval) of emergency appropriation resolutions exceeding three (3%) percent of the total current and utility operating appropriations in the budget adopted for that year.   9/14/07

 

i.          Approval of applications for establishment of petty cash funds.  9/14/07

 

j.          Review and determination of eligibility for certain municipalities which want to offer tax abatement or exemption for commercial/industrial projects.   9/14/07

 

k.         Approve municipal deferred compensation programs.   9/14/07

 

l.          Approve by-laws for a joint insurance fund with another local government unit(s) and the plan of risk management.  9/14/07

 

m.        Determine amount of grants or loans to municipalities eligible for financial assistance  Special Municipal Aid [N.J.S.A. 52:27BB-118-24–N.J.S.A. 52:27D-43]   9/14/07; 9/15/10

 

3.         Service Functions of the division include technical and managerial assistance as follows:   9/14/07

 

a.         Auditing, budgeting, accounting, purchasing, and numerous other areas of financial management.

 

b.         Debt management.

 

c.         Computer systems and financial software packages.

 

d.         Interlocal Services Act.

 

e.         Publication of a Local Finance Notice.

 

f.          Joint and cooperative purchasing under the Local Public Contracts Law.

g.         Assistance with municipal and county charter study commissions.

 

h.         Deferred Compensation and Self-insurance programs.

 

i.          Training programs for local officials.

 

j.          Certification of Municipal Tax Collectors, Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers.

 

4.         The division also administers several direct financial aid programs. The following is a summary of these aid programs for which the director has the responsibility for distribution, contingent on the availability of annual budget appropriations.

 

a.         Extraordinary Municipal Aid - (formerly the Discretionary Aid Program) This aid program is designed to minimize property tax increases in those municipalities that demonstrate a clear need for additional state funds despite their efforts to provide property tax savings for current and future budget years.  Generally, the municipality has experienced unique circumstances to warrant this aid (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-118.35).

 

b.         Municipal (Urban) Aid - to maintain and improve municipal services and to offset local property taxes. Eligibility and aid allocations are based on various indicators of fiscal distress, including population and population density, effective tax rate, equalized valuation per capita, incidence of welfare recipients and public housing. (N.J.S.A. 52:27D‑178 to 181)

 

c.         Special Municipal Aid - provides loans, loan guarantees and grants to help fiscally distressed cities regain their financial stability. An eligible municipality is one qualified under the Urban Aid Law of 1978, or under supervision of the Local Finance Board, or one that has issued qualified bonds. The Director of the division "is provided" broad discretion in establishing the various factors relating to fiscal distress and determining the amount of grants or loans within available appropriations, subject to concurrence of the Local Finance Board.

 

As a condition of receiving such assistance, an eligible municipality must implement any fiscal recovery measures recommended by the Director with approval by the board, and the municipality must agree to management and fiscal audit by the Director. (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-118.24 to 118.31)   9/14/07; 9/15/10

 

While the general laws governing the above aid programs set forth eligibility based on various formula factors, the legislature and the governor, by language in the annual state appropriations law, often modify the formulas or freeze the aid allocations to municipalities to avoid changing payments. On the other hand, the legislature has delegated extremely broad discretion to the director of DLGS in allocating funds under programs such as aid to distressed cities. In 1995 the State legislature is considering combining the numerous State revenue programs into four (4) or five (5) block grants.  Known as the Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid, this will eliminate the necessity of budgeting State revenues in literally dozens of categories.

 

C.         DIVISION OF TAXATION, DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY

 

It is also responsible for the supervision of property tax assessment at the municipal, county, and state levels.  9/14/07; 9/15/13

 

1.         The division is structured according to its three (3) principal activities:

 

a.         Processing and tax administration

 

b.         Special procedures and investigations

 

c.         Audit

9/15/13

 

2.         The principal property tax administrative responsibilities for the supervision of property tax assessment are:    9/14/07; 9/15/13

 

a.         Direct assistance to local assessors on such matters as property appraisal and methods of assessing unusual, complex properties. Plan training of new assessors to deal with their responsibilities under the law.

 

b.         Coordination of efforts of Assessors, County Tax Administrators and County Boards of Taxation with those of the division, and promulgation of uniform rules governing county tax board hearings and procedures.

 

c.         Operation of the state equalization program and preparation of the annual table of equalized valuations used in the distribution of state school aid; apportionment of county taxes among local taxing districts; apportionment of current and/or capital costs of regional and consolidated school districts; and apportionment of certain state aid health grants.

 

d.         Certifies Municipal Tax Assessor.   9/14/07

 

e.         Review of municipal contracts for professional revaluations and approves same where warranted. Review includes inquiry into the financial status of revaluation companies, as well as their competence and ability to perform in accordance with the contract.   9/14/07

 

f.          Insure that all municipalities have a tax map. Examination of all local tax maps and suggest revisions when needed. Approval of tax maps when completed and in compliance with all requirements. ("Tax Map Specifications" is a guide issued for municipalities in preparing a tax map.)   9/14/07

 

g.         Development of data processing systems and programs for use by local Tax Assessors and County Tax Administrators.   9/14/07

 

h.         Administration of law providing for payments-in-lieu of taxes to municipalities for certain State owned tax-exempt property. 9/14/07

 

i.          Administration of homestead rebate law.   9/14/07

 

 

 

CHAPTER 2 OFFICE OF THE MUNICIPAL CLERK
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