Governor Murphy has declared a state of emergency last week via executive order in response to the coronavirus outbreak. As the world continues to evolve to the coronavirus crisis, the State and Local Governments are putting new rules and regulations in place to help Municipalities navigate the global issue at hand. The following are some changes that our Municipal clients need to understand and put into action in the coming months.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus-related disruption to municipal and county operations, the dates for introduction and approval by both counties and municipalities are extended from March 29, 2020 to April 28, 2020 (or the next regularly scheduled governing body meeting after April 28th). The deadline for county and municipal budget adoption is likewise extended from April 30, 2020 to May 30, 2020 (or the next regularly scheduled governing body meeting after May 30th).
N.J.S.A. 40A:4-6.1 requires the budget advertisement to state the “location, phone number, and office hours” of the principal building where copies of the budget will be publicly available, and the name of the individual or office to contact for receiving a copy of the budget by mail. The notice provides guidance on how local units can meet this requirement while access to public buildings are restricted.
Expenditures resulting from a state of emergency are treated as an exception to the appropriations cap law (N.J.S.A. 40A:45.3(bb)), 1977 county levy cap law (N.J.S.A. 40A:4-45.4(q)), and the 2010 levy cap law (N.J.S.A. 40A:4-45.45(b)). N.J.A.C. 5:30-3.9 sets forth the process and terms under which emergency-related exceptions to the 2010 levy cap (i.e. 2% cap) are permissible. Levy exceptions are only available for “extraordinary costs” incurred for the immediate preparation, response, recovery, and restoration of public services due to extreme weather conditions or other catastrophic events not anticipated in the current budget year and subject to the terms of a gubernatorial emergency declaration. The notice provides guidance on the applicable requirements and necessary steps to ensure compliance with these requirements.
The notice goes on to explain the process of approving emergency appropriations for coronavirus response post budget adoption, the recommendation of estimated tax bills and further guidance on the deposit of funds in light of potential bank closures.
Refer to the following link for the PDF from the Division of Local Government Services: https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/lfns/20/2020-07.pdf .
For further information on Local Finance Notice 2020-07 and its implementation feel free to reach out to Steven Wielkotz at (973)-835-7900 ext. 201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.