New Borough Website Still Not Complete. Violates Budget Law.

New Borough Website Still Not Complete. Violates Budget Law.thumbnail
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Published: December 14, 2015 @ 6:30 AM EDT

Over the Thanksgiving weekend the municipality upgraded its email services and website (link). Although it should be commended for being more appealing to the eye, two weeks later there are still sections on the website that remain ‘Under Construction’ (such as Community and Calendar) while others are non-existent with a majority of departments absent along with their contact information.

Of note is the violation of NJSA 40A:4-10 which requires that a municipality’s current operating budget, its ‘User Friendly Budget’, and its adopted budgets for the preceding three years be on its website. None are currently on the municipal website as of this publication. Additionally, as a point of compliance with the state’s Best Practices Program, the website does not have the most recent annual financial statement and audits, contact information for some appointed officials such as the police chief or the municipal court administrator or other department heads. There are also no meeting dates for the governing body nor any listed meeting dates, agenda, nor minutes for the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB).

The website does have notifications for solicitation of bids and RFPs (Request For Proposals), contact information for the municipal clerk’s office, and meeting minutes and agendas for the governing body. Ordinances are also available as well as a connection to the online borough code book even though they are all placed under the ‘Borough Clerk’ section instead of a ‘Documents’ or ‘Information’ section. That section could also house forms, bill list summaries, permits, garbage collection/recycling calendar printouts, and other documents that residents could download to avoid having to call or visit Borough Hall.

If the website were redesigned on the back end, leaving the current site accessible to the public, the municipality would be in compliance with both New Jersey’s Budget Law and its Best Practices Program for municipalities.

The website is being redesigned by Joseph Hannay of Critical Concepts Website Design (link). He was appointed as the TV34 broadcast technician responsible for the municipality’s Local Access Channel in January of this year at an annual rate not to exceed $9,000. It does not appear he is being compensated financially for redesigning the website but there also appears to not be any concrete ‘complete by’ date – and that is part of the problem. Mr. Hannay did not respond to messages left to allow him to comment on this article or the website’s status.

Hopefully, either the old website can be brought back online until the new one is ready in order to provide residents with substantial information or the new website can be completed soon but with no set completion date it is difficult to determine when that will be.