[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Harmony 12-23-2002 by Ord. No. 02-14. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Tax search certificates — See Ch. 39.
[Amended 6-9-2005 by Ord. No. 05-8]
The Township Clerk is hereby designated the Custodian of Records for all public records maintained by the Township and shall act in this capacity on behalf of the Township.
[Amended 6-9-2005 by Ord. No. 05-8]
The Township shall make all public records accessible to the citizens of this state in accordance with the procedures and definitions set forth in N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq., unless said records are exempt from inspection as set forth in said statute.
[Amended 6-9-2005 by Ord. No. 05-8]
The Custodian of Records shall permit a public record to be inspected, examined and copied by any person during regular business hours of the Township Clerk and shall be permitted to redact same in accordance with the governing statute.
The actual cost of duplicating the record shall be the cost of materials and supplies used to make a copy of the record, but shall not include the cost of labor or other overhead expenses associated with making the copy except as provided herein. If the Township can demonstrate that its actual costs for duplication of the record exceed the foregoing rates, the Township shall be permitted to charge the actual cost of duplicating the record. Whenever the nature, format, manner, or collation or volume of a Township record embodied in the form of printed matter to be inspected, examined or copied pursuant to this section is such that the record cannot be reproduced by ordinary document-copying equipment in ordinary business size or involves an extraordinary expenditure of time and effort to accomplish the request, the Township may charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplicating the record, a special service charge that shall be reasonable and shall be based upon the actual direct cost of providing the copy or copies; the special service charge shall be established in the amount of $15 per hour. The requestor shall have the opportunity to review and object to the charge prior to its being incurred.
The Municipal Clerk shall permit access to a Township record and provide a copy thereof in the medium requested if the Township maintains the record in that medium. If the Township does not maintain the record in the medium requested, the Municipal Clerk shall either convert the record to the medium requested or provide a copy in some other meaningful medium. If a request is for a record in a medium not routinely used by the Township; not routinely developed or maintained by the Township; or requiring a substantial amount of manipulation or programming of information technology, the Township may charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplication, a special charge that shall be reasonable and shall be based on the cost for any extensive use of information technology, or for the labor cost of personnel providing the service, that is actually incurred by the Township or attributable to the Township for the programming, clerical, and supervisory assistance required, or both.
Ordinarily, immediate access shall be granted to budgets, bills, vouchers, contracts, including collective negotiations agreements and individual employment contracts, and public employee salary and overtime information.
The Municipal Clerk of the Township shall adopt a form for the use of any person who requests access to a record held or controlled by the Township. The form shall provide space for the name, address, and phone number of the requestor and a brief description of the Township record sought. The form shall include space for the Municipal Clerk to indicate which record will be made available, when the record will be available, and the fees to be charged. The form shall also include the following:
Specific directions and procedures for requesting a record;
A statement as to whether prepayment of fees or a deposit is required;
The time period within which the Township is required by P.L. 1963, c. 73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.), as amended and supplemented, to make the record available;
A statement of the requestor's right to challenge a decision by the Township to deny access and the procedure for filing an appeal;
Space for the Municipal Clerk to list reasons if a request is denied in whole or in part;
Space for the requestor to sign and date the form;
Space for the Municipal Clerk to sign and date the form if the request is fulfilled or denied.
The Municipal Clerk may require a deposit against costs for reproducing documents sought through an anonymous request whenever the Municipal Clerk anticipates that the information thus requested will cost in excess of $5 to reproduce.
A request or access to a Township record shall be in writing and hand-delivered, mailed, transmitted electronically, or otherwise conveyed to the Municipal Clerk. The Municipal Clerk shall promptly comply with a request to inspect, examine, copy, or provide a copy of a Township record. If the Municipal Clerk is unable to comply with a request for access, the Municipal Clerk shall indicate the specific basis therefor on the request form and promptly return it to the requestor. The Municipal Clerk shall sign and date the form and provide the requestor with a copy thereof. If the Municipal Clerk of a government record asserts that part of a particular record is exempt from public access pursuant to P.L. 1963, c. 73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.), as amended and supplemented, the Municipal Clerk shall delete or excise from a copy of the record that portion which the Municipal Clerk asserts is exempt from access and shall promptly permit access to the remainder of the record. If the Township Record requested is temporarily unavailable because it is in use or in storage, the Municipal Clerk shall so advise the requestor and shall make arrangements to promptly make available a copy of the record. If a request for access to a Township record would substantially disrupt Township operations, the Municipal 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 Township. Any officer or employee of the Township who receives a request for access to a Township record shall forward the request to the Municipal Clerk or direct the requestor to the Municipal Clerk.
Unless a shorter time period is otherwise provided by statute, regulation, or executive order, the Municipal Clerk shall grant access to a Township record or deny a request for access to a Township 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 the Municipal 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 provide a name, address, or telephone number, or other means of contacting the requestor, the Municipal Clerk shall not be required to respond until the requestor reappears before the Municipal Clerk seeking a response to the original request. If the Township record is in storage or archived, the requestor shall be so advised within seven business days after the custodian receives the request. The requestor shall be advised by the Municipal Clerk when the record can be made available. If the record is not made available by that time, access shall be deemed denied.
A party that is aggrieved by the denial of or failure to provide access to a Township record for inspection, examination, or copying, or for purchase of copies thereof, may institute a proceeding to challenge the Municipal Clerk's decision by filing an action in the Superior Court, Law Division, Warren County. In lieu of filing an action in Superior Court, the aggrieved person may file a complaint with the Government Records Council, in the Department of Community Affairs. In any such proceeding, the Township shall have the burden of proving that the denial of access is authorized by law.