SPARTA, NJ – Residents looking to “attend” the annual budget meetings for township council and board of education have some hunting to do. Following coronavirus related executive orders both meetings will be held virtually.

The township council has moved their meeting time from the usual 7:30 p.m. up to 6 p.m.  Anyone interested in joining the meeting must have emailed on Monday, April 27 for a password to join the meeting on Tuesday, April 28, or call t973-726-INFO (4636) on April 27 to get the required password if they plan the meeting by calling in.

Mayor Jerry Murphy said the meeting time was moved to 6 p.m. during the pandemic. 

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"The governor's EO mandating citizens to stay home allows the meeting time to be flexible to accommodate the majority of people," Murphy said.  "Receiving a password is done for additional security and efficiency and on the advice of professionals.  This is not a hurdle to gaining access to the meeting but rather a prudent move that an educated public understands." 

Murphy did not say which professionals recommended the password protection for the meeting.

The meeting is being held on ZOOM.  As of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, April 27 the meeting information and agenda were not available on the website.  The email address to request a password was not available on the website either. It was sent in a legal notice to TAPinto Sparta.

By 10 p.m. the website had been updated to include a notice about the meeting links and the agenda.

The only information on the municipal website was a calendar notation on which the time is still listed as 7:30 p.m. and location is still shown as Council Chambers. TAPinto Sparta wrote to the council member and township manager to follow up on the information but did not get an official response as of publication.

TAPinto Sparta obtained a password for the meeting:

The ZOOM password for the April 28, 2020, Sparta Township Council meeting is: 42807871

 The ZOOM meeting link 

The township has canceled all meetings of Planning and Zoning Board for the month of April.  At the last township council meeting held via ZOOM on March 27, Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn said while the Planning Board is not meeting, subcommittee work is getting done.  Minutes to those meetings are not posted on the website. The Environmental Commission meeting is also canceled.  No other committee meetings or cancelations are listed on the township website.

The board of education, which has met on Mondays for at least 20 years, is meeting on Wednesday this month.  On Wednesday, April 29 the board will hold their regular meeting and the annual Budget Hearing. 

The meetings have been moved to Thursdays for a few months to accommodate the schedule of new school district counsel who is attending meetings for free for six months.  This month a further scheduling conflict required the meeting be held on Wednesday.

The meeting information can be found on the district website Sparta.org. The options are to join a Google Hangout virtual meeting which includes video or to call into the meeting.

The phone number to call is 1 401-684-2969. Callers will be asked to dial in pin number 290 489 256#

The 2020-2021 User Friendly Budget has been posted to the school district's website.  Neither the agenda nor committee minutes related to the April 29 meeting have been posted to the school district's website as of 2:30 p.m. on Monday.