Mt. Laurel Township on track to receive full state aid for following state’s best practices program

Mt. Laurel Township Council approved the submission of this year’s best practices survey to the state at council’s Sept. 26 meeting.

For the past several years, the state has required municipalities throughout New Jersey fill out what’s known as a “best practices” questionnaire to determine if the municipalities are complying with various standards related to areas such as being fiscally accountable and transparent.

Should a municipality not meet the minimum requirement for a certain number of standards, the state has the ability to withhold state aid to the municipalities as a penalty.

At its Sept. 26 meeting, Mt. Laurel Township Council this year’s best practices survey, which is due to the state on Oct. 21.

According to acting township manager Meredith Tomczyk, municipalities must score at least 80 percent on the survey to receive 100 percent of their state aid.

Tomczyk said Mt. Laurel scored 90 percent for this year’s survey and therefore would be receiving all state aid for which the township is eligible. Tomczyk said the township’s auditor has also reviewed this year’s survey and submitted it to the state.

The survey includes questions such as whether townships provide residents with user-friendly budgets when presenting their annual municipal budget, whether townships keep municipal websites up to date or whether townships have a written policy preventing municipal vehicles for being used for personal purposes.

In regard to areas where Mt. Laurel answered “no” and did not score points this year, Tomczyk said one of the items answered “no” was whether the township’s governing body had publicly discussed any potential takeover of the township’s municipal utilities authority or fire district.

Tomczyk said another item the township answered “no” to was a question that asked if any of the township’s department heads receive overtime pay.

Tomczyk said no department heads receive overtime except in the special case of the township’s director of public works, who also serves a dual role as a supervisor in a union in public works.

“To be on the safe side, we just answer no to that,” Tomczyk said.

Tomczyk also noted this year’s survey was different from previous years as the inventory contains fewer questions, with a reduction from 50 questions to 30.

Another change for this year’s survey is townships were previously able to answer “prospective” for certain questions to receive points, but with this year’s survey the only possible answers are yes, no and not applicable.

“The questions went from 50 to 30, so the test got harder,” Deputy Mayor Irwin Edelson said.

In other news:

Council has set the hours for this year’s Mischief Night (Oct. 30) and Halloween (Oct. 31). On Oct. 30, a curfew hour of 9 p.m. will be in effect for all residents under the age of 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. On the following day for Halloween, the suggested start time for trick-or-treating hours will be 3 p.m., with an end time of 9 p.m.