Friday, September 20, 2013

New Jersey Municipalities

So by popular demand, a post on the types of municipalities in New Jersey.

The structure of NJ Municipalities is rather unique, and complicated.  To begin, we must discuss the 5 traditional (ie used before 1900) types, all of which were recently redefined in the late 1980s:

Township is the oldest forms.  It began as a direct democracy with a town hall meeting.  That system was replaced in the late 1800s and then again in 1989.

Boroughs began as a special form, requiring an act of legislature for each.  In the late 1800s any township or area not exceeding 4 square miles and a population of 5000 could form a borough.  Boroughs were considered a separate school district and thus could avoid paying taxes as well as exercise greater control over their own schools.  This, of course, led to the infamous Borough Fever.  The legislature removed the ability for boroughs to self-incorporate.  The latest rewrite came in 1987.

Cities were created in the late 1800s by various special laws, with no real pattern, besides a max population cap of 12,000.  In the late 1980s when all the municipality laws were rewritten there were only 11 cities. 

Towns were created in the late 1800s for municipalities over 5000.  The law was rewritten with the rest in the late 1980s.

Villages were also created in the late 1800s for areas of at least 300 people.  In the late 1980s rewrite villages were all but abolished (there was only 1 at the time).  Now, they operate under the same rules as a township, but with some name changes.  For example, mayor is called president of the board, which is a terrible name for the leader of a village, it should probably be chieftain.

Currently, all 5 of these types of municipalities are legally equal.  This is opposed to other states, where townships are made up of towns or boroughs.

Now that we've discussed the 5 types of municipalities, we must discuss the 12 forms of government.  To begin, each of the 5 types has a default form of the same name.  They may either keep the default or change to one of the 7 modern forms.

To begin, there is the special charter, which is another name for 'other'.  As in, a special charter granted by the state legislature which doesn't fit one of the other forms.

Next there is the Walsh Act, and the 1923 Municipal Manager Law.  Both created in the early 1900s.

The most important of the modern forms, though, are the 4 Faulkner Act forms.  The Faulkner Act (aka Optional Municipal Charter Law) was passed in 1950 and created 4 new optional forms: Mayor-Council, Council-Manager, Small Municipality and Mayor-Council-Administrator.  Each of these forms have several sub plans, designated by letters (eg plan B).

For some stats I went to this wiki page:

Unfortunately, it doesn't have most forms, only the types.  It also seems to be wrong in a few cases.  I used the links to the individual pages, and scraped the form from them directly.  Even so, I know there are at least a few errors.  For example, there are no more village forms, the last changed a few years ago.  My data still lists 1.  Still, I hope that it is accurate for a few years ago.

Faulkner (all)13649223,41732,983277,140
Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council)7349230,71945,143277,140
Faulkner Act (Council-Manager)431,17022,86622,92962,300
Walsh Act3054,30012,14466,455
Faulkner Act (Small Municipality)171,6735,3577,32726,535
Special Charter108,21324,33829,12666,522
1923 Municipal Manager Law76724,13628,87184,136
Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council-Administrator)313,18325,85026,59240,742

This is a good PDF with a good historical overview:

This page gives a good overview of how each form operates:

Here's my data:

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