P.L. 1997, CHAPTER 279, approved January 6, 1998
Assembly, No. 824 (Third Reprint)
An Act concerning the professionalization of the office of municipal clerk, amending various parts of the statutory law, and supplementing Chapter 9 of Title 40A of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. N.J.S.40A:9-133 is amended to read as follows:
40A:9-133. a. In every municipality there shall be a municipal clerk appointed for a three-year term by the governing body of the municipality. Commencing January 1 following the third anniversary of the effective date of P.L. c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), no person shall be appointed or reappointed as a municipal clerk unless that person holds a registered municipal clerk certificate issued pursuant to section 3 or section 4 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.3 or C.40A:9-133.4).
b. For the purposes of tenure, the term of a municipal clerk shall be deemed to have begun as of the actual date upon which a person serving as municipal clerk is appointed. In the event of a vacancy in the office of municipal clerk, an appointment shall be made for a new term and not for the unexpired term. A reappointment of an incumbent municipal clerk made within 60 days following the expiration of the prior term shall not be considered to be a new appointment and the effective date of the reappointment shall date back to the date of expiration of the initial term of appointment.
c. [The governing body of a municipality shall appoint a person to a three-year term as municipal clerk within six months after the previous municipal clerk has resigned or the office has otherwise become vacant.] Within 90 days of the occurrence of a vacancy in the office of municipal clerk by reason of the departure of a registered
municipal clerk, the governing body may appoint a person who does not hold a registered municipal clerk certificate to serve as acting municipal clerk for a period not to exceed one year and commencing on the date of the vacancy. Any person so appointed may, with the approval of the director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs, be reappointed as acting municipal clerk for a maximum of two subsequent one-year terms following the termination of the temporary appointment. No local unit shall fill the position of acting municipal clerk for more than three consecutive years. Time served as acting municipal clerk may be credited toward the experience authorized as a substitute for the college education requirement pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.2). Time served as acting municipal clerk may not be credited as time served as municipal clerk for the purpose of acquiring tenure pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.7).
d. [Should the office of municipal clerk become vacant, the governing body of a municipality may appoint a person to serve as acting municipal clerk for a period of not more than six months.] (deleted by amendment, P.L. ,c. (C. )(pending before the Legislature as this bill).
e. The municipal clerk shall:
(1) act as secretary of the municipal corporation and custodian of the municipal seal and of all minutes, books, deeds, bonds, contracts, and archival records of the municipal corporation. The governing body may, however, provide by ordinance that any other specific officer shall have custody of any specific other class of record;
(2) act as secretary to the governing body, prepare meeting agendas at the discretion of the governing body, be present at all meetings of the governing body, keep a journal of the proceedings of every meeting, retain the original copies of all ordinances and resolutions, and record the minutes of every meeting;
(3) serve as the chief administrative officer in all elections held in the municipality, subject to the requirements of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes;
(4) serve as chief registrar of voters in the municipality, subject to the requirements of Title 19 of the Revised Statues;
(5) serve as the administrative officer responsible for the acceptance of applications for licenses and permits and the issuance of licenses and permits, except where statute or municipal ordinance has delegated that responsibility to some other municipal officer;
(6) serve as coordinator and records manager responsible for implementing local archives and records retention programs as mandated pursuant to Title 47 of the Revised Statutes;
(7) perform such other duties as are now or hereafter imposed by statute, regulation or by municipal ordinance or regulation.
f. If a governing body fails or refuses to comply with subsections a., b. or c. of this section, the director may order the governing body to comply by a date certain which shall afford the governing body a reasonable time within which to comply. 2[The members of a governing body who willfully fail or refuse to comply shall each be subject to a personal penalty of $25 for each day after the date fixed for final action that failure or refusal to comply continues. The amount of the penalty may be recovered by the director in the name of the State as a personal debt of the member of the governing body, and shall be paid, upon receipt, into the State Treasury.]2
(cf: P.L.1991, c.73, s.1)
2. Section 1 of P.L.1981, c.394 (C.40A:9-133.1) is amended to read as follows:
1. a. The provisions of any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, commencing on the effective date of [this act] P.L.1981, c.394, all municipal clerks shall hold office by virtue of appointment pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S. 40A:9-133, except as otherwise provided in this section.
b. All municipal clerks holding office on the effective date of [this act] P.L.1981, c.394 shall continue in office until their successors are appointed in the manner provided by N.J.S. 40A:9-133.
c. Nothing contained in [this act] P.L.1981, c.394 or in any other statute shall prevent any municipal clerk who, upon the effective date of [this act] P.L.1981, c.394, holds office by virtue of [his] election thereto, from acquiring tenure upon being appointed thereto after the effective date of [this act] P.L.1981, c.394, if [he] the clerk otherwise qualifies for tenure pursuant to N.J.S.40A:9-134.
(cf: P.L.1981, c.394, s.1)
3. Section 2 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.2) is amended to read as follows:
2. Commencing on the effective date of [this act] P.L.1985, c.174, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs shall hold examinations semiannually, and at such other times as he may deem appropriate, for certification as municipal clerk. An applicant for examination shall furnish proof to the director, not less than 30 days before an examination, that the applicant is not less than 21 years of age, is a citizen of the United States, is of good moral character, has obtained a certificate or diploma issued after at least four years of study at an approved secondary school or has received an academic education considered and accepted by the Commissioner of Education as fully equivalent, and has completed at least two years of education at [an institution of higher education] a college of recognized standing. For purposes of this section, 30 college credits will be considered equivalent to one year of college. An applicant who does not meet the two year [higher education] college requirement may substitute on a year for year basis full-time experience 1or the equivalent part-time experience1 in [federal, State or local government in the performance of] a position as deputy municipal clerk, assistant municipal clerk or other position of county or municipal government which performs duties relative to those performed by a municipal clerk as described in subsection e. of N.J.S.40A:9-133. An applicant shall also present proof of completion of the following courses offered through Rutgers, The State University or similar courses offered at a college or university [certified] approved by the [Department of Education] Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs:
Introduction of the Duties of the Municipal Clerk;
Advanced Duties of the Municipal Clerk;
Local Election Administration;
Information and Records Management[;]and
Municipal Finance Administration for Municipal Clerks.
Every applicant submitting an application prior to January 1, 1997 may present proof of satisfactory completion of a course in Municipal Finance Administration, in lieu of the course in Municipal Finance Administration for Municipal Clerks.
The proofs required pursuant to this section shall be provided on the application forms and in the manner as shall be prescribed by the director. Each completed application shall be accompanied by a fee in the amount of [$25.00] $50 payable to the order of the State Treasurer. Examinations shall be written, or both written and oral, and shall be of such character as fairly to test and determine the qualifications, fitness and ability of the person tested to actually perform the duties of municipal clerk.
(cf: P.L. 1985, c.174, s.2)
4. Section 3 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.3) is amended to read as follows:
3. Upon the successful completion of the examination by an applicant, a certificate shall be issued to [him] the applicant as a registered municipal clerk. The certificate fee shall be[$25.00] $50 payable to the order of the State Treasurer.
(cf: P.L. 1985, c.174, s.3)
5. Section 7 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.7) is amended to read as follows:
7. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, any person who:
a. Shall be reappointed municipal clerk subsequent to having received a registered municipal clerk certificate pursuant to [this act] P.L.1985, c.174 and having served as municipal clerk or performed the duties of municipal clerk for not less than three consecutive years immediately prior to such reappointment; or
b. Shall have acquired tenure; shall hold [his] office during good behavior and efficiency, and compliance with the continuing education requirements set forth in section 8 of P.L. c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), notwithstanding that such reappointment was for a fixed term of years; and [he] shall not be removed therefrom for political reasons but only for good cause shown and after a proper hearing before the director or [his] the director's designee. The removal of a registered municipal clerk shall be only upon a written complaint setting forth with specificity the charge or charges against [him. The complaint shall be filed with the director and] the clerk. The complaint shall be filed with the director and a certified copy [thereof] of the complaint shall be served upon the person so charged, with notice of a designated hearing date before the director or [his] the director's designee, which shall be not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days from the date of service of the complaint. Such date may be extended by the Superior Court for good cause shown upon the application of either party. The person so charged and the complainant shall have the right to be represented by counsel and the power to subpoena witnesses and documentary evidence together with discovery proceedings. The provisions of this section shall apply to every person actually in office as registered municipal clerk, whether or not in the classified service under Title [11 of the Revised Statutes] 11A of the New Jersey Statutes (Civil Service).
For the purposes of this section, the definition of good cause for removal of a municipal clerk may include the failure of the clerk to meet the continuing education requirements set forth in section 8 of P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).
(cf: P.L.1985, c.174, s.7)
6. N.J.S.40A:9-134 is amended to read as follows:
40A:9-134. On or before December 31, 1985, any person holding the office of municipal clerk in any municipality and having held such office continuously for five years from the date of his original appointment shall have tenure in such office and shall not be removed therefrom except for good cause shown after a fair and impartial hearing.
For the purposes of this section, the definition of good cause for removal of a municipal clerk may include the failure of the clerk to meet the continuing education requirements set forth in section 8 of
P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).
(cf: P.L.1986, c.181, s.1)
7. (New section) Within six months of the effective date of P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), any municipal clerk who has been granted tenure pursuant to P.L.1981, c.394, or P.L.1985, c.174 but does not hold a registered municipal clerk certificate shall apply to the director for a registered municipal clerk certificate. Application shall be made on a form approved by the director at no cost to the applicant. Upon verification of the applicant's tenured status, the director shall issue a registered municipal clerk certificate, marked as restricted to the municipality employing the municipal clerk. A municipal clerk holding such a certificate shall then be subject to all provisions affecting other certificate holders under P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) including but not limited to renewal, continuing education and maintenance of tenure rights.
8. (New section) a. Commencing July 1, 1996 all registered municipal clerk certificates issued pursuant to section 3 or section 4 of P.L.1985, c.174 (C.40A:9-133.3 or C.40A:9-133.4), or section 7 of P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be renewed upon application 2[, payment of the required fee,]2 3, payment of the required fee,3 and verification that the applicant has met the requirements as set forth in this section. Each renewal shall be for a period of two years. The renewal date shall be 30 days prior to the expiration date.
b. All registered municipal clerk certificates subject to renewal pursuant to this section issued prior to July 1, 1996 shall have an expiration date of June 30, 1998. All registered municipal clerk certificates issued on or after July 1, 1996 shall expire two years from the date on which the certificate was originally issued.
c. Each applicant for renewal of a registered municipal clerk certificate shall, on a form prescribed by the director, furnish proof of having earned at least 2.0 continuing education units in subject areas related to the statutory duties of the municipal clerk and minimum contact hours as prescribed by the director. For the purposes of this section, 1.0 continuing education unit equals 10 contact hours. Upon verification of this requirement 2[, and upon payment of a fee of $50 to the order of the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey,]2 3, and upon payment of a fee of $50 to the order of the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey,3 the director shall renew the registered municipal clerk certificate.
d. Where the holder of a registered municipal clerk certificate has allowed the certificate to lapse by failing to renew the certificate, a new application and certificate shall be required. If application is made within six months of the expiration of the certificate, then application may be made in the same manner as renewal but the application shall be accompanied by the fee for a new application.
9. (New section) The director is authorized to adopt, in accordance with the "Administrative Procedures Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), such regulations, forms and procedures as may be necessary to carry out the terms of this act.
210. (New section) Nothing in P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be construed as requiring a municipal governing body to pay any of the costs an individual may incur in complying with the requirements for obtaining or renewing a registered municipal clerk certificate; however, a municipal governing body, by resolution, may determine to reimburse an individual for all or any portion of the costs an individual may incur. For the purposes of this section, the term "costs" shall include but not be limited to the costs associated with course registration, application fees, transportation and leaves of absence.2
2[10.] 11.2 This act shall take effect immediately.
Concerns requirements for appointment and reappointment of municipal clerk.