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September 12, 2014

Re:      Best Practices Checklist Issued

Dear Mayor:

The Division of Local Government Services has issued Local Finance Notice 2014-16 regarding the CY 2014/SFY 2015 Best Practices Inventory. 

The Best Practices Inventory (“Inventory") is an excel worksheet which will be submitted electronically to the Division.  The Inventory must be certified by your Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Financial Officer and the municipal clerk must certify that the Inventory was discussed at a public meeting.  The excel worksheet is available at www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/programs/best_practices.html.

The following are the highlights:

  • The Inventory is due by Friday, October 17th for Calendar Year or Transitional Fiscal year municipalities.  Fiscal Year municipalities must return their questionnaire by April 2, 2015.  We urge municipalities to submit their checklist as soon as possible as to avoid a delay in receiving your December aid payment.
  • The Inventory remains at 50 questions, 14 of which are new. 
  • Some questions, both repeat and new, may require additional information to be entered in the right column labeled “Comments” or clarify when a “yes” or “not applicable” answer is appropriate.
  • In addition to allowing for “yes” or “no” answers, certain questions allows for the option of answering “prospective” or “not applicable”.
  •  “Not applicable” is only an appropriate answer if a municipality concludes that the requirement is impossible to meet given the municipality’s circumstances.  Using “not applicable” will require an explanation of why it is not applicable. 
  • “Prospective” should only be used to indicate that compliance with a practice will be forthcoming in the upcoming year based on good faith efforts and direction from the appropriate officials to implement the practice.  Repeated questions cannot be answered “prospective”.
  • The completed Inventory must be an agenda item for discussion at a municipal governing body meeting and the municipal clerk must certify on the worksheet that the Inventory and the results thereof were was discussed publicly. 
  • The municipality’s Chief Administrative Officer and the Chief Financial Officer must certify the results.
  • Once the completed Inventory is submitted to the Division it cannot be amended and resubmitted except by making an appeal to the Director.
  • Municipalities can appeal to the Director their scoring by the close of business Friday, October 17, 2014.  For State Fiscal Year municipalities the deadline is April 2, 2015.  Appeals can be submitted before the submission deadline but not before the Inventory is submitted.
  • Once the municipality’s Best Practice Inventory is transmitted to the Division, the worksheets cannot be amended and resubmitted except by making an appeal to the Division’s Director.

This year’s criteria for withholding property tax relief funding will use a sliding scale up to the full amount of the final aid payment:

# of Questions scored yes, prospective, or “not applicable”

Amount of Aid Disbursed

Impact on final 5% aid payment/impact on total aid

41-50

100%

No penalty

33-40

80%

Lose 20% which equals 1% of total aid

25-32

60%

Lose 40% which equals 2% of total aid

17-24

40%

Lose 60% which equals 3% of total aid

9-16

20%

Lose 80% which equals 4% of total aid

0-8

0%

Lose 100% which equals 5% of total aid

The State Appropriations Act requires the Director to exercise discretion and flexibility in scoring the Inventory and reasonable accommodations will be considered where circumstances warrant. 

We have reviewed the checklist and provided the Division with some initial comments and feedback.   We thank Division of Local Government Services Director Tom Neff for allowing us an opportunity to provide input in the process. 

If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Lori Buckelew at lbuckelew@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x112.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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