RE: S-2765 Mandates website postings by local authorities and commissions
Yesterday, in Trenton, the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee amended and released S-2765. This legislation, introduced in response to the State Comptroller’s recent report, “An Analysis of On-Line Transparency of New Jersey’s Local Authorities and Commissions” (http://www.nj.gov/comptroller/news/docs/transparency), requires all local authorities and commissions to maintain an Internet website for the purpose of providing increased public access to each entity’s operations and activities. The required information includes:
- a description of the entity’s mission and responsibilities;
- the adopted budget for the current fiscal year;
- the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report or other similar financial information;
- the annual audit for the most recent fiscal year;
- the entity’s rules, regulations, resolutions, and official policy statements;
- notice, posted in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act prior to a meeting of the entity’s governing body or any of its committees, setting forth the time, date, location, and agenda of the meeting;
- the approved minutes of each meeting of the governing body and its committees;
- a list of all employees; and
- the name and phone number of a principal executive officer having overall responsibility for the operations of the entity.
We had contacted one of the bill’s principal sponsors, Senator Jennifer Beck, prior to the hearing. Respectful of our concerns, Senator Beck offered, and the Committee accepted, a number of amendments that will limit the mandate’s impact and allow additional time for entities to come into compliance. The Senator also agreed that the requirements outlined in the legislation should be equally applied to all State-level authorities, commissions and agencies, in all three branches of government, as well as to local entities. And the bill was so amended.
However, the bill still imposes a new requirement on local public entities. That new requirement will require an initial investment of money, time and energy. It will require an ongoing maintenance of effort. It provides no new revenue source to offset the costs associated with compliance. The bill, therefore, constitutes an unfunded mandate. That mandate will fall on all of the named agencies, but will have the greatest impact on local agencies composed of volunteers, with little or no professional staffing.
We are pleased to report that Senator Beck has agreed to further discussions on our outstanding concern. We will keep you posted on further developments. But, in the meantime, we must remain opposed to S-2765.
We want to thank Senator Beck for her willingness to consider our concerns and work towards a resolution of our differences.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.