(TRENTON) – Aiming to help local governments continue to function effectively on behalf of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset), Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) and Anthony Verrelli (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) was signed into law Friday by Governor Phil Murphy. It previously passed the Assembly 70-6-4 and the Senate 37-1.
The new law (formerly bill A-3969) provides authority to the Director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs to extend various deadlines applicable to local governments during emergencies declared by the Governor. It also extends certification renewal periods for various county and municipal officers; allows local public bodies to hold public meetings remotely; clarifies that local governments may accept certain electronic payments; adjusts certain property tax distribution and notice requirements; among other changes intended to ease the burden on municipalities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The law’s sponsors released the following joint statement:
“Government must continue to function at all levels especially in difficult and uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for mayors, town councils and other local officials to continue serving their communities.
“We aren’t sure when this crisis will end, or when local governments may resume business as usual. Until then, it makes sense to give local units greater flexibility to meet deadlines, conduct meetings remotely and clear other procedural hurdles given the uncertain and unexpected challenges they currently face. This law will ensure local governments in New Jersey have the tools and flexibility they need to operate under these unforeseen circumstances.”