The Township Form (NJSA 40A:63-1)
The Township form is the oldest form of municipal government in New Jersey. Designed to parallel the New England Township meeting, the Township Act of 1899 abolished the Township meeting and replaced it with a Township Committee with all municipal powers. This act, with a handful of amendments, served until it was repealed by the Township Act of 1989, which cleared up many of ambiguities of the previous law.
Under the current township government laws, the Township Committee remains the backbone of the municipality’s government. Voters elect, at-large, the Township Committee comprising five members. The elections are partisan and the committee members serve staggered three-year terms. The Township Committee elects the mayor for a one-year term. The mayor serves as chair of the Township Committee and has powers vested in the Mayor’s office by general law.
Under the Township form, all legislative powers are concentrated in the Committee. The Committee also has all executive powers not placed in the Mayor either by general law or the revised Township act. Additionally, all municipalities under the traditional form may appoint, including the Township form, may appoint a Municipal Administrator and “delegate to him all or a portion of the executive responsibilities of the municipality.”
As of 2006, 144 municipalities operate under the Township form.
All legislative power of the Township, except in matters of health, shall be exercised by the Township Committee pursuant to law, and in matters of health, by the Board of Health.
The Township Committee shall organize annually during the first week in January, at which time it shall elect a Mayor from among its members. The Mayor shall preside at meetings of the Township Committee and perform such other duties as the Township Committee may prescribe. In the absence or disability of the Mayor, the deputy Mayor shall have the power and duties of the Mayor.
The Mayor shall have the power to appoint subcommittees of the Township Committee with the consent of the Township Committee. He shall sign and execute documents and agreements on behalf of the Township. He shall have the power to make proclamations concerning holidays and events of interest in the Township. He shall exercise the ceremonial power of the Township and every other power usually exercised by Township mayors or conferred upon him by law. In the absence or disability of the Mayor, the Committee shall designate the Township Deputy Mayor.
Meetings of the Township Committee
Regular meetings: The Township Committee shall meet annually within the first week in January. The Committee shall meet regularly thereafter on the second Wednesday and on the fourth Wednesday in each month at 7:30 p.m., except that the Committee may, by resolution, dispense with or change the date of a regular meeting. When the time for any regular meeting of the Committee falls on a legal holiday as prescribed by law, such meeting shall be held at the same hour on some other day of the week at the convenience of the Committee.
Special meetings: A special meeting may be called at any time upon written request of one member of the Township Committee or by the Mayor. The request and call for a special meeting shall specify the purpose of the meeting and no business shall be transacted at any special meetings other than that specified. The call for a special meeting shall be filed with the Township Clerk and shall be served upon each Committee member as hereinafter provided at least 24 hours prior to the time for which the meeting is called, provided that the Mayor may determine that an emergency exists affecting the health or safety of the people, which requires consideration by the Township Committee within a shorter time, and upon such determination which the Mayor shall set forth in the call, the call may be filed with the Clerk at any time prior to the time set for the meetings. Upon the filing of any call for a special meeting, the Clerk shall forthwith give notice thereof by telephone or telegraph to each Committee member, at such place as he shall have previously designated for that purpose, and shall also serve or cause to be served a written copy of the call upon each Committee member, by delivery of a copy to him personally or by the leaving of a copy at his usual place of abode. The Police Department shall cooperate with the Clerk in effectuating such service of notice. Upon waiver of notice by all members of the Township Committee, a special meeting or a change of the agenda thereof may be held without prior notice, notwithstanding the above provisions of this section.