To be an engaged citizenry we must be an informed citizenry. This is a key tenet of our democracy, and gets to the very core of what NewBrunswickPress.com is all about.
We launched NewBrunswickPress.com to make sure Hub City residents are getting the news they need to participate in community decision making. Which is why we’re pleased to join the Sunshine Week celebration by bringing our readers some simple tips for accessing local public records.
Where can I get public records?
First, determine which local government agency you would like information from.
If you want records about municipal government, including the housing and parking authorities and other boards and commissions, then you will need to contact the New Brunswick City Clerk at 732-745-5041 or visit City Hall at 78 Bayard Street and request an “Open Public Records Act Request Form,” aka “OPRA Form.”
If you want Police Reports or Accident Reports, or other records from the New Brunswick Police Department, contact the Police records custodian at (732) 745-5212 or visit the station at 25 Kirkpatrick Street.
What types of records can I request?
With a few exceptions, you have access to any paper, drawing, map, plan, report, or other document that has been made, maintained, or kept on file in connection to official business of the government. This includes copies of the municipal budget, government contracts, planning board applications, minutes of meetings, ordinances, and resolutions.
Some of the exceptions to the law are personnel records; records that are deemed “consultative, deliberative, or advisory; or documents relating to pending litigation. A full list of exemptions can be found here.
How much do public records cost?
For photocopies of paper records, letter-sized pages are .05 cents per page and legal-sized pages are .07 cents per page. If you request information on a CD the public entity is only allowed to charge the “actual cost," previous court rulings have set "actual cost" as $1.
I filed my request, now what?
Certain public records must be made available immediately on request, including:
- Budgets (Not inclusive of working documents) Bills, Vouchers, and Contracts Collective Negotiation Agreements (Final) Individual Employment Contracts Employee Salaries and Overtime Information
- Approved Minutes, Ordinances & Resolutions (Not Drafts)
For all other requests, the records custodian has 7 days to comply or deny your request.
If your request was denied, you may seek free mediation from the Government Records Council.