It is helpful for all residents of our community to have a basic knowledge and understanding of how their local government operates, and the duties and responsibilities of their elected officials. In this respect, the following is a summary of the duties and functions of the Township Committee, and the services provided by the various departments in delivering services to the community.
Form of Government
The Township of Rochelle Park is organized as a Township form of municipal government as set forth under N.J.S.A. 40A:63-1 et seq. The elected officers of every Township are the members of the Township Committee, the governing body of the municipality. The Township has a five member Township Committee whose terms of office begin on January 1st following the preceding general election. Each member holds office for a term of three years. Since the Township is not divided into wards, the five members of the governing body serve at large, and represent all of the people of the Township and not any one particular section or area.
Annual Reorganization Meeting
Each year, during the first seven days of January, State law requires that the Township Committee convene a reorganization meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to reorganize the government whereby the governing body makes appointments of individuals to various boards, commissions and committees for the purpose of conducting the business of the Township. Other business matters also take place at this annual meeting.
It is during the traditional January Reorganization Meeting that the members of the governing body elect one of their number as Chairman of the Committee whose responsibility it is to preside at all meetings of the Township Committee and who shall be known as the Mayor of the Township. However, as an equal member of the Township Committee, the Mayor has no additional authority by virtue of his/her designation as Mayor, except as may be provided by State law.
With the advice and consent of the Township Committee, it is customary for the Mayor to assign governing body members to head Township departments, and serve as liaison to the various boards, commissions and committees. These assignments are made at the January Reorganization Meeting. While a member of the governing body may be appointed to serve as a department head, it is the full Township Committee that ultimately bears responsibility for the operations of all departments. In serving as liaisons to Township boards and commissions, members of the governing body attend meetings of the:
- Board of Health
- Recreation Commission
- Historic Society
- Parking Commission
- Committee for Improvement of Public Areas
- Rochelle Park Free Public Library (which is funded by a dedicated tax but is run by the Library Board of Trustees)
In accordance with the Municipal Land Use Law, the Mayor serves as a Class I member to the Planning Board, and a Township Committee member (Comm. LiBassi) serves serves as a Class III Planning Board member.
Township Committee Responsibilities
As the policy making board, the Township Committee’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Adoption of ordinances (i.e, Township laws)
- Approval of resolutions
- Preparation of the calendar year operating budget
- Management of finances
- Establishing the municipal tax rate
- Appointing such officers as may be necessary to perform those duties required by law and ordinances
- Execute and perform all the executive responsibilities of the municipality not placed, by general law or statute in the Office of the Mayor