The New Jersey Online News Resource Group has issued the following report on Municipal Integrity:
Municipal Integrity Report
The Center for Public Integrity recently released their "State Integrity Report" which ranked NJ #1 (B+) in anti-corruption laws. Considering NJ's reputation many people were surprised, but the fact is as a result of citizen action our legislators and governors over the last decade have made great improvements in reforming public contracting and increasing transparency and accountability.
What was not included was an analysis of how our towns and cities rank. Most of the reforms at the state level have yet to make their way to municipal and county government.
We've compiled a citizens checklist to see how your community matches up. Review the items and start bringing common sense solutions to your town.
MUNICIPAL INTEGRITY CHECKLIST
A) Access to Public Information
1. Does your municipality have website?
2. Are meeting minutes, ordinances, and resolutions kept online. Is the municipal budget for the last 3 years available online.
3. Can a citizen email, fax, or mail a public records request
4. On a scale of 1-10 how would rate the responsiveness of the municipality to your records requests.
B) Elected Leaders Accountability
1. Has every elected official filed their annual financial disclosure form? (you can check here:)
2. Generally, do elected officials respond to citizen inquiries at public meetings?
3. Has your municipality adopted a strong conflicts of interest policy?
C) Municipal Audits
1. Does your municipality use a competitive contracting process for hiring municipal auditors?
2. Has your town rotated auditors at least once in the last 10 years?
D) Political Financing
1. Are all candidate's contribution disclosure forms filed in a timely manner with the Election Law Enforcement Commission?
2. Do outside "political action committees" contribute to local races?
E. Legislative Accountability
1. Are closed meeting minutes made available in a timely manner?
2. Are copies of resolutions and ordinances to be voted on, made available to the public at the public meeting?
F. Budget Process
1. Is a copy of the user-friendly budget summary available on the municipal website?
2. Does your municipality have a Citizens Advisory Budget Review Committee to offer feedback?
3. How well did your town rank in the Municipal Efficiency Survey? Link:
1. Does your town have a strong anti-pay to play ordinance banning government contractors from making donations to local candidates and parties?
2. Does your town used a competitive process to hire insurance brokers on a flat fee basis?
3. Does your town use a competitive process for the selection of no-bid professional services?
4. Does your municipality engage in any interlocal service agreements (i.e. shared services) to reduce the cost of goods and services?
H. Ethics Enforcement
1. Does your town have a Municipal Ethics Board?
The New Jersey Online News Resource Group is supported by The Citizens Campaign through a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation.