Galloway Township qualified to receive all its funding from the State of New Jersey for the 2013 fiscal budget after scoring a 43 on this year’s Best Practices Checklist.
Municipalities must answer 41 of 50 items with answers of yes, in progress or not applicable to qualify for state aid. The township scored a 45 out of 50 last year.
Of the 50 questions, about 30 touched on new topics, according to the Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) website.
These topics include a requirement that the chief financial officer verify the township has removed independent contractors from receiving pension credit, as well as ensuring the township is conducting a monthly review of its health benefits to delete employees, spouses or dependents who should no longer be receiving coverage, according to the DCA.
The township answered yes to both these questions. It answered “no” to the following questions:
- Has your municipality adopted a pay-to-play ordinance that is more restrictive than state statutory requirements?
- Does your municipality require its elected officials to attend on an annual basis one course offered by the Rutgers University Center for Government Services?
- Have all audit findings from the 2010 audit been identified in the corrective action plan and addressed so that they are not repeated in the 2011 audit?
- Does your municipality limit health benefits to full-time (35 hours a week or more) employees, excluding elected and appointed officials;
- Does your municipality make available to the public free of charge documents that show the salaries of all personnel and additional documents that would allow the public to view how your municipality’s salaries have changed over a three-year period;
- Does the governing body approve all payments for accumulated absences?; and
- Does your municipality limit benefits for work-related injuries to conform with the State Workers Compensation Law?
“It looks like some of the no’s have already been addressed,” Councilman Brian Tyrrell said at the council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9, when the report was discussed.
The pay-to-play question states that municipalities are allowed to prohibit the award of public contracts to business entities that have made campaign contributions exceeding $300 and limit a contract holder’s contribution to $300.
“Why would they want municipalities to be more restrictive than the state?” Township Clerk Thalia C. Kay said during the council meeting. “We were confused, and we thought it was unfair to get deducted one point if we weren’t more stringent than the state.”
In the report, the township responded to the question of audit findings by stating the township’s fixed asset accounting system contained errors, insufficient identifying numbers, assets that were not tagged, and included items that were disposed of or could not be located.
While answering no to the question of healthcare benefits being limited for full-time employees, it was able to answer yes to the question of part-time elected and appointed officials being excluded from healthcare benefits. During a separate discussion Tuesday night, Mayor Don Purdy spoke of council members giving up their health benefits when he first became a council member in 2010 to save the township money.
The township is permitted to provide health care benefits to employees who work more than 25 hours a week. Liston said there is one employee who works more than 32 hours a week, and that person has health care benefits. Galloway follows the 32-hour guideline for employees to be considered full-time officially set by the state, rather than the 35-hour guideline mentioned in the checklist
The township answered yes to a question pertaining to a revaluation, as a discussion began Tuesday addressing a hybrid reassessment to take place for the 2014 tax cycle.
The township also answered yes to the question concerning the municipal website, and whether it contains the budgets for the last three years and the current year’s proposed budgets; annual financial statements; RFPs; contact information for officials; and meeting dates and agendas.
The township also answered yes to the question of refraining from giving overtime pay to employees who are classified as exempt.
In January, former Township Manager Steve Bonanni approved comp time and overtime for the township clerk, deputy clerk and chief financial officer at the time. Then-solicitor Michael Blee found nothing illegal about these actions, but the township rewrote the statute to make it illegal at that point.
The checklist was issued Aug. 27, and was due back to the state by Sept. 28. The final step was for council to publicly discuss the report, which it did Tuesday night.
A copy of the report is attached to this story as a PDF file.