[HISTORY: Adopted by the governing body of the Township of Little Falls 12-18-1995 by Ord. No. 753 as Sec. 2-50 of the 1995 Revised General Ordinances; amended in its entirety at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby declared to be the public policy of the Township of Little Falls to recognize the public's general right to know pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq.). All records kept in the course of official duties by any Township of Little Falls officer or employee shall be deemed to be "government records," as that term is defined by N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1, and such records shall be subject to inspection by the public unless exempt under the statute or other regulation, common law practice, executive order of the Governor, Rules of Court, federal law or judicial decision.
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1, the Township Clerk is designated as the custodian of records. The Township Clerk shall adopt a form for the use of any person who requests access to a record, and such form shall contain all of the information required by N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(f).
Any person seeking to inspect, examine or copy a public record of the Township of Little Falls shall make application in writing to the Township Clerk, during regular business hours, on the form provided. All requests for public records shall be as specific as possible, including the type of record and date created, if known.
The Township Clerk shall promptly comply with a request to inspect, examine, copy or provide a copy of a government record. If the Township Clerk is unable to comply with a request for access, he or she shall indicate on the request form the specific basis for such inability to comply and shall promptly return it to the requestor. The Township Clerk shall sign and date the form and provide the requestor with a copy thereof.
In those instances where the nature of the request or the record itself leads the Township Clerk to doubt whether or not the record is a "government record" as defined by law or is a record exempt from disclosure, the Township Clerk shall request an opinion from the Township Attorney. A copy of the request form shall be forwarded to the Attorney, who, after review and investigation, shall issue an opinion and note such opinion on the request form and promptly return it to the Township Clerk.
If any part of a particular record is exempt from public access pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq., the Township Clerk shall delete, redact or excise from a copy of the record that portion which is exempt from access and shall promptly permit access to the remainder of the record.
If the record requested is temporarily unavailable because it is in use or in storage, the Township Clerk shall so advise the requestor and shall make arrangements to make a copy of the record available.
If a request for access to a government record would substantially disrupt municipal operations, the Township Clerk may deny access to the record after attempting to reach a reasonable solution with the requestor that accommodates the interests of the requestor and the municipality.
As required by N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5e, immediate access shall be granted for access to budgets, bills, vouchers, contracts (including collective negotiations agreements and individual employment contracts), and public salary and overtime information.
Unless a shorter time period is otherwise provided by statute, regulation or executive order, the Township Clerk shall grant access to a government record or deny a request for access to a record as soon as possible, but not later than seven business days after receiving the request, provided that the record is currently available and not in storage or archived. In the event that the Township Clerk fails to respond within seven business days after receiving a request, the failure to respond shall be deemed a denial of the request, unless the requestor has elected not to provide a name, address or telephone number, or other means of contacting the requestor. If the requestor has elected not to provide a name, address, or telephone number, or other means of contacting the requestor, the Township Clerk shall not be required to respond until the requestor reappears before the custodian seeking a response to the original request. If the government record is in storage or archived, the requestor shall be so advised within seven business days after the Township Clerk receives the request. The requestor shall be advised by the Township Clerk when the record can be made available. If the record is not made available by that time, access shall be deemed denied.
The Township Clerk shall post prominently in public view, in or adjacent to the Township Clerk's office, a statement that sets forth in clear, concise and specific terms the right to appeal a denial of or failure to provide access to a government record and the procedure by which an appeal may be filed.
Upon the approval of a request to view, inspect, examine or copy a record, the record and the requestor shall remain in the presence of the Township Clerk or his or her authorized representative at all times. Under no circumstances shall any government record be removed from the office where it is normally kept unless accompanied by the custodian or his or her authorized representative.
In the event that the nature of a request to view records requires that the Township Clerk or other municipal employee observe or monitor such viewing for a period of time exceeding 1/2 hour, the requestor shall be responsible for reimbursing the municipality for the time spent by the Township Clerk or other employee.
[Amended 12-22-2008 by Ord. No. 1060]
Copies of records may be purchased for the fee prescribed by law or regulation. If a fee is not prescribed by law or regulation, the fee shall be the actual cost of duplicating the record, provided, however, that where the actual cost for duplication of a record exceeds the rates for the following set forth in Chapter 71, Fees, the actual cost shall be imposed.
Standard-sized paper documents, up to 8 1/2 inches by 14 inches in size.
Large-sized paper documents and maps, including Zoning, Street and Tax Maps, the Drug-Free School Zone Map, soils survey maps, site plans, subdivision plats and engineering plans.
Preprinted documents, including copies of the Code book of the Township of Little Falls, Code supplements, zoning pamphlets, land use pamphlets and the Master Plan.
Certified copies of vital statistics records, marriage licenses and domestic partnership registrations.
Police reports, photographs and other records.
Official searches for municipal liens (tax searches) or for improvements authorized but not assessed.
Continuations of an official search for municipal liens or for improvements authorized but not assessed within three years from the date of the original search.
Certificates of approval for subdivisions.
Duplicate copies of tax bills.
Electronic records, including copies of audiotape, either supplied by requestor or supplied by Township and copies of electronic documents or databases. The fees cover the cost of copying existing files to a floppy disk or CD. Any requests for software conversions shall be subject to the special service charges set forth in Chapter 71, Fees. For security reasons, the use of a floppy disk or CD provided by the requestor is prohibited.
A special service charge shall be imposed, in addition to the actual cost of duplicating the record, where the nature, format, manner of collation or volume of printed matter is such that it cannot be reproduced by ordinary document-copying equipment in ordinary business size or where such record involves an extraordinary expenditure of time and effort to accommodate the request. The requestor shall have the opportunity to review and object to the special service charge prior to it being incurred.
Conversion of records from one medium to another. Cost of duplication plus a labor charge equal to the hourly rate for the Township employee or professional multiplied by the total amount of time spent by the Township employee or professional in converting a record.
In addition to duplication costs, any request for public records requiring an extraordinary expenditure of time and effort shall be assessed a special service charge based upon the hourly rate for the Township employee or professional multiplied by the total amount of time spent by the Township employee or professional in processing the public records request.
Applicable postage shall be added for any and all records requested by mail.
A deposit shall be paid prior to filling any anonymous request where it is estimated that the information requested will cost in excess of $5 to reproduce. The amount of the deposit shall equal the total estimated cost of filling the request.
The Township Tax Collector shall, upon request by the owner or paying agent, provide at no charge one calculation of total delinquent tax and interest due on any property or properties.
A service charge as set forth in Chapter 71, Fees, shall be charged for fulfilling any second or subsequent request within a twelve-month period for calculation of delinquent amounts due for the same property or properties, if, upon the furnishing of the prior calculation, the taxes as calculated were not timely paid.
[Amended 12-22-2008 by Ord. No. 1060]
The service charge authorized by this subsection shall become part of the delinquent tax account or accounts for which calculation was made and shall be added to and made part of the total lien against the property or properties and shall be subject to the same interest charges as the delinquent tax.