Colts Neck establishes attendance policy for boards, commissions

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COLTS NECK – The Township Committee has adopted an ordinance that establishes an attendance policy for all members of local boards, commissions and committees who are not elected officials.

The ordinance was adopted on Jan. 31.

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According to the ordinance, a state statute permits municipalities to “adopt … a policy permitting the removal of a member of a board, committee, commission, authority or other agency who has been absent without being excused by a majority of the authorized members of such body for the longer of either six consecutive weeks or three consecutive regular meetings.”

The Colts Neck ordinance pertains to the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Board of Health, Environmental Commission, Shade Tree Commission, Architectural Review Committee, Farmland and Open Space Committee, Historical Preservation Committee, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Recreation Committee and Business Advisory Committee.

Regarding attendance at meetings, the ordinance states that “any member of a municipal board, committee or commission may be removed from their position by the Township Committee for failure to attend meetings without justifiable cause.”

It goes on to state that “in the event a non-elected member is unable to attend a meeting for a valid reason, such as a legitimate illness or business obligation, it shall be the responsibility of that member to notify the secretary of their respective board, commission or committee that he or she will be unable to attend a meeting. An absence will be considered ‘excused’ when approved by a majority of the members of the board, commission or committee.”

As to the removal of an individual from a board, the ordinance states that “in the event a non-elected board, committee or commission member has unexcused absences, the respective board … must notify the Township Committee and affected member in writing within 14 days.

“The affected member shall be entitled to a public hearing before the Township Committee provided he or she requests the same in writing. Should the Township Committee remove a non-elected member of a township board … the Township Committee shall remove (the) member by the adoption of a formal resolution.”

The Township Committee will then fill the vacant position for the unexpired term.

Township Attorney Meghan Bennett-Clark said the ordinance is the extent to which the governing body can act to mandate an attendance policy. However, she said each board has the right to adopt a stricter attendance policy if its members wish to do so.

“It is a good idea to address this issue. Volunteers are hard to find, but if you volunteer we do appreciate that you put time and effort into the board,” Committeeman Russell Macnow said. “We ask that volunteers hold to their commitment and if they don’t want to do it, then we will find someone else who would want to.”

“We are just putting some rules in place that we need to abide by because of past practices,” Mayor J.P. Bartolomeo said.

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