HOLMDEL, NJ : Are you interested or involved in local government? The New Jersey Division of Local Government Services designs a checklist that reviews a wide range of municipal operations each year. It's a great way for elected officials and citizens to stay informed. This state mandated document is called the "Best Practices Checklist" and applies to all municipalities.

The checklist has been in existence for a few years but changes and revisions are implemented in each year. For 2018, it is a 61 question form that each municipality completes and forwards to the state by November 12. As part of the requirements, the governing body reviews the checklist at a public meeting. This is typically done this month.

Most municipalities do well and a certain score is required to avoid losing state aid. Some municipalities have work to do.

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Designed to improve the services and operations at a local level, It is a useful tool for elected officials and their communities to gauge their success and areas for improvement.

Check out the link to the questionnaire HERE.

The questions are a broad range of financial, policy, programmatic and personnel inquiry.  Contract management and adherence to statutory deadlines are a high priority as well.

As an example, key questions relate to having a robust website that has significant public information on it from an administrative standpoint:

  • Agendas
  • Minutes
  • Current and Prior Budgets
  • Annual Debt Statements
  • Annual Financial Statements

From a practical standpoint, the more information that is on the website the better for all.

Other features of the checklist relate to past audits and compliance with any comments for improvement. The goal here is to ensure that inputs to improve in prior years have taken place. Some questions are simple:

  • Are Union Contracts submitted to state agencies so the public can easily review?
  • Are you taking advantage of low interest rates for debt service?
  • Do you prohibit health insurance for part time employees?
  • Do you have a written vehicle use policy in place?

In many ways the questions are straightforward such as advocacy to receive and utilize grants or having updated personnel manuals. However, for elected officials and their constituents, it's an organized and simple way to review a 'checkup' on municipal operations and look for ways to work together to improve local governance.

Terence M. Wall, MPA, RMC, QPA is a 20 year Municipal Management professional with an expert background as an Administrator, Purchasing Agent and Registered Municipal Clerk. A specialty is negotiations and employee benefits. He is President of Dovetail Consulting LLC. 

 Editor's Note:  In the interest of transparency, TAPinto Holmdel and Colts Neck's publisher, Jeanne Wall is married to Terence Wall.