BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Each week leading to the June 6 Primary election, the Republican candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Republican candidate Marc Faecher for Week 3.

Week 3 Question: What would you like to see the Township Council do to improve communication with residents so that the process involved in governing is more inclusive/transparent? How would you do it?

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The issue of transparency is of critical importance, one that I and the entire Council takes very seriously.  Two laws govern the disclosure of documents and how we conduct public meetings—The Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq. (“OPRA”) and the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 et seq. (“OPMA”), respectively.  The Township meets and exceeds the standards established by both of these laws to increase transparency and to exercise our fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Berkeley Heights.  We believe public trust is an essential and fundamental part of effective government.

OPMA law simply requires that residents be given one opportunity to be heard. At our Council meetings, residents are given multiple opportunities to speak: for agenda items, on ordinances, and time for any matter of interest. Multiple public hearings are held on the Township’s operating and capital budgets. Residents are invited to not only review and question all expenditures, but also speak to the Business Administrator and CFO prior to the approval of the budget. All Council members along with the Mayor and administrative staff are available by phone, email, and in person by appointment to answer questions, share ideas or concerns. We WANT to hear from you.

Council may go into Executive Session to discuss sensitive business information such as litigation, contract negotiations or individual personnel matters. These are not “secret meetings behind closed doors.” This is fully consistent with OPMA. Executive Session enables the Council to protect the Township’s best interests by not discussing individuals, legal or contracting strategies with counterparties such as developers who certainly do not disclose their intentions to the Township.

Since being elected in 2015, Council has taken significant additional steps to increase transparency and resident accessibility to Township information and meetings:

  1. Recording of all Council meetings; including “live-streaming” thus enabling residents to view in real time from elsewhere;
  2. Agendas are posted in advance on the Township website, made available in paper format (upon request), along with approved Minutes;
  3. The Township website has been upgraded to include additional information concerning municipal meetings and events.  The volunteer advisory Communications Committee continues to work on enhancing website content and features, saving on costly consultants;
  4. A new Township Facebook page provides updated information;
  5. A new Swift911™ Portal pushes out critical information/notices to residents wishing to receive municipal updates.

Please visit www.kingsleyfaecher2017.com to learn more.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in the answer are the candidate's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the candidate.