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April 25, 2014

Re:      New Procedure for Financial Disclosure Statements Division Issues Guidance to Municipal Clerks

Dear Mayor:

The Division of Local Government Services has issued guidance to Municipal Clerks on the new procedure for Financial Disclosure Statements.  Local Finance Notice 2014-16 is intended for the Municipal Clerk, who has the administrative responsibilities concerning financial disclosure statements.  A separate Local Finance Notice will be issued within the next week for local government officers who must file the Local Financial Disclosure Statements.   With that said, we wanted to highlight some important information for you regarding the new procedure.

For 2014, the Division contracted with an outside vendor to provide an improved on-line filing system.  The new system resolves many of the technical problems experienced in 2013.  For example, you will be able to save your financial disclosure statement year to year, the system is compatible with Apple products including iPads and financial disclosure statements will be available for public search and download immediately after you submit your form electronically.  Paper copies of the Financial Disclosure Statement will not be accepted by the Local Finance Board.  All completed Financial Disclosure Statements must be submitted using the online filing system.

While the Local Government Ethics Law applies to all employees and officers of local governments, only “local government officers” are required to file a Financial Disclosure Statement.  The Local Finance Board has requested that each municipal clerk carefully review their local government officer roster in consideration of the guidance provided in the Local Finance Notice and in consultation with local counsel.  If the Local Finance Board receives a signed written complaint alleging that a person is a local government officer who did not file a Financial Disclosure Statement and that person is not included on the roster, the Local Finance Board will require the local government to explain how it determined that person not to be a local government officer

N.J.S.A. 40A: 9-22.3(g) defines a local government officer as:

... any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full- time:
(1) elected to any office of a local government agency;
(2) serving on a local government agency, which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances;
(3) who is a member of an independent municipal, county or regional authority; or
(4) who is a managerial executive or confidential employee of a local government agency, as defined in Section 3 of the "New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act," P.L. 1941, c.100 (C.34: 13A-3), but shall not mean any employee of a school district or member of a school board.

The Office of the Attorney General has issued a series of opinions that give advice as to the type of positions that are considered "local government officers." These opinions may be viewed at the Division of Local Government Services’ website at www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/programs/ethics.html.  Click on Ethics Law and Complaints/Ethics Related Opinions to view these opinions.

Based on Attorney General Opinions (AO) the following positions are specifically required to file a Financial Disclosure Statement:

AO 91-0090: County Prosecutor
AO 91-0092: Municipal Attorney
AO 91-0093:
Elected Officials (and any person selected to fill a vacancy in an elected position.)
Board of Health Members
Planning Board Members
Board of Adjustment Members
Zoning Board of Adjustment Members
Independent Authority Members
Fire District Commissioners
Special Tax District Commissioners
AO 91-0132: Board of Recreation Commissioners
AO 91-0133: Planning/Zoning Board Attorney
AO 91-0134: Independent Local Government Agency Attorney
AO 92-0061: Local Ethics Board Members
AO 92-0069: Rent Leveling Board Members
AO 92-0072: Joint Insurance Fund Commissioners
AO 92-0109: County and Municipal Emergency Management Coordinators
AO 00-0041: County Agricultural Development Board Members

Based on Attorney General Opinions (AO) the following positions are specifically not required to file a Financial Disclosure Statement:

AO 91-0096: Court Personnel – Including Judges and Court Administrators
AO 91-0141: County Board of Taxation Commissioners
AO 92-0070: Local Assistance Board Members
AO 92-0071: Municipal Environmental Commission Members
AO 92-0109: Emergency Management Council Members
AO 95-0168:
County/Local Advisory Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Members
County Alliance Steering Subcommittee Members
Municipal Alliance Committee Members
AO 97-0135: Registered Municipal Accountants Serving as Local Government Auditors

The determination regarding managerial executive and/or confidential employees is fact sensitive. Attorney General Opinion #91-0093 provides a six page analysis of how such determinations have been made by the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) in interpreting the NJ Employer-Employee Relations Act, which is tied to the Local Government Ethics Law at N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.3g(4). 

For a variety of reasons found in the Local Government Ethics Law and in the Attorney General Opinions, there are positions that are not required to file the Financial Disclosure Statement.  The Local Finance Board will not pursue “failure to file” complaints charging persons holding titles/positions that are not required to be filed even if the local government includes such a title/position on the roster.  They include Advisory Board Members, Court Personnel, Registered Municipal Accountants, Bond Counsel and Labor Counsel.

Shortly, your Municipal Clerk should be providing Local Government Officers with the information necessary to file their Financial Disclosure Statement.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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