All township Council meetings are both live-streamed and recorded on video for residents. The video recording is available shortly after the meeting by going to www.delrantownship.org > Government > Agendas and Minutes (Right Column)
The township also has a Facebook page that posts information that is very timely and references the township website for more information.
Additionally, we recently renovated the township website to make it even easier to navigate.
Someone asked the question, “Why are there so many Closed Sessions in the work session meetings?”
We understand that it sometimes seems like the town council is trying to hide things when they “close the doors” and the public doesn’t get to see or hear what’s happening, but that’s not really why closed sessions exist.
New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act N.J.S.A 10:4-6, known as “The Sunshine Law,” is designed to ensure that decision-making government bodies in the state conduct their business in public except in specific circumstances where exclusion of the public is needed to protect the privacy of individuals, the safety of the public or the effectiveness of government in such areas as negotiations or investigations. The Sunshine Law was created so that meetings would be conducted in the open, to the greatest extent possible, consistent with the public interest and without invading individual privacy.
For starters, it’s important to know that Closed sessions are limited to discussion only; all formal action must be made in the open, regardless of the subject matter. There is NEVER any action taken in a Closed Session. We must vote in Open Session. Additionally, closed sessions are still recorded (in fact they MUST be) and have the attorney, Township Administrator, and the Township Clerk in attendance. Engineers, auditors, or other professionals are often also present to provide expert advice to the Council. Minutes are also prepared and approved by members of the Council after the meeting and must be promptly made available once the necessity of the closed session has passed.
Under the Sunshine Law, these are the only subjects that can be covered in Closed Sessions:
- Matters made confidential by state, federal law, or rule by the court.
- Disclosure would result in an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy unless the person affected consents in writing.
- Disclosure would impair the body’s right to receive federal or state funds.
- Collective bargaining.
- Lease or acquisition of property, the setting of banking rates, investment of public funds if disclosure would harm the public interest.
- Investigations into violations of law.
- Strategies to protect public security.
- Pending, ongoing, or anticipated litigation or contract negotiation, including attorney-client privilege. The threat of litigation must be more than theoretical for this exemption to apply.
- Personnel matters affecting employees of the public bodies, unless all parties request or consent to a public hearing. Prior to the discussion of personnel, affected employees must be given notice, known as a Rice notice, which gives the employee the right to request a public hearing.
- Proceedings that could result in a suspension, civil penalty, or loss of a license or permit.
Obviously, some of these exceptions come up more often than others, and while it may seem like “a lot” of Closed Sessions to the people on the other side of the door, imagine for example, if it were your salary or personal health issues that were being discussed.
Privacy is important both for individuals and for community safety. So is transparency. As your Mayor and Council, it is our hope that we will be able to continue moving towards more accessibility and transparency and share as much information with our fellow residents as we legally can, without violating anyone’s right to individual privacy, without sacrificing public safety, and without compromising the effectiveness of government.