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Van Drew Bill Giving Mayors Veto Power Over Municipal Authorities Clears Committee

Measure Would Prevent Runaway Spending, Other Wayward Decisions By Authorities

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Van Drew to give mayors veto power over proposed actions by municipal authorities in order to prevent irresponsible spending or other decisions that could negatively impact local residents was approved today by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

The legislation (S-2427) would provide mayors the ability to veto minutes of authority meetings, similar to the veto power held by county freeholder directors and county executives. A veto would require the consent of the majority of the members of the municipality’s governing body.

“We need to ensure that all spending by municipal authorities is accounted for and that decisions made by these authorities are subject to strict oversight by officials who understand the needs of the community,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This bill will give mayors a real mechanism to control costs for residents, by empowering them to veto spending or other proposed actions that could have a detrimental impact on residents.”

Municipal authorities will be required to deliver meeting minutes to the municipality’s governing body within five business days, under the measure. An action taken at a meeting of an authority would not be effective if, within 10 days after the copy of the minutes is delivered to the municipality’s governing board, the action is vetoed by the mayor with the concurrence of a majority of the municipal council or committee. If the mayor does not veto the minutes within 10 days, the minutes would be deemed approved.

“Decisions made by public authorities can have a direct impact on the community,” added Van Drew. “This will provide a system of checks and balances to ensure that actions taken by boards and commissions governing municipal authorities are in the best interest of the residents they serve.”

The measure would exempt from the mayor’s veto power any collective bargaining agreement or binding arbitration decisions affecting authority employees, as well as any covenants contained in the bond indentures of the authority.

The bill passed the committee by a vote of 3-0. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The committee also approved a bill sponsored by Senator Van Drew (S-2433) to modify the “Municipal Land Use Law” to extend the time period from six to 10 years that municipalities are required to complete the reexamination of their municipal master plan and development regulations by the planning board. The measure now goes to the full Senate.