CHATHAM BOROUGH MISSION STATEMENT
The Mission of the Municipal Government of the Borough of Chatham is to maintain the Borough as a safe, clean and healthy environment for residents, the business community, their guests, employees and customers. We will accomplish our mission by providing cost-effective municipal programs that will promote, enhance and protect the quality of life in the Borough of Chatham, and deliver municipal services in an efficient, responsive, courteous and professional manner. Municipal government will be open, and we will continue to seek creative ways to encourage communication among residents, elected and appointed officials and staff.
The Borough of Chatham is administered through the combined efforts of elected officials, appointed board members, and employees of the Borough. Borough Organizational Chart (pdf)
The Borough Plan of government under which Chatham operates provides for a mayor and six council members. The mayor serves a four-year term. Each year two of the six council members are elected to three-year terms. All elections are partisan. The mayor and council members are not paid for their service and do not receive stipends, health or pension benefits.
The mayor maintains order, executes state laws and local ordinances, makes personnel appointments with the advice and consent of the Borough Council, and recommends measures to assure the welfare of the Borough. The mayor presides at Borough Council meetings but has no vote except in case of a tie. He or she may veto measures, but the Council may override the veto by a two-thirds vote. By right of office the mayor serves as a member of all Borough committees.
Pictures of Chatham Borough’s past mayors are in the main entryway of Borough Hall.
The duties of the six-member Borough Council include passing local ordinances and resolutions, awarding contracts for public works, approving appointments made by the mayor, making appointments as provided by law, setting the budget and tax levy, and handling bond issues.
The Borough Council elects a president from its members by a majority vote at the annual re-organization meeting. The Borough Council president serves a one-year term and presides at council meetings when the mayor is absent.
Council meetings are open to the public. The time and place of the meetings are set at the Council’s Reorganization Meeting during the first week of January. The Borough Council holds its regular business meetings on the second and fourth Monday (unless Monday is a holiday) of each month at 7:30 p.m. in Borough Hall, 54 Fairmount Avenue. (The Council sometimes meets only once a month during the summer months and December.) The mayor or a majority of the council may call special meetings. The agenda for each Borough Council meeting is generally available on the Friday before the meeting and is posted on the Borough website. Borough Council meetings are broadcast live on Cablevision Channel 21 and FIOS Channel 32, and are also rebroadcast frequently. Borough Council meetings are also available to view on demand via Vimeo linked through the website.
In addition to other duties, each council member chairs one Borough committee and serves on two others. The committees are as follows:
Budget and Finance: Financial oversight and planning; preparation of the budget; review of fees.
Public Works Planning/Community Services: Public Works services, infrastructure planning, solid waste, recycling services, ommunity out-reach, and Borough-sponsored programs, activities and events.
Personnel: Salary and benefits for all personnel; administrative personnel matters.
Public Safety and Emergency Services: Oversight of police, coordination with Emergency Squad and Fire Department.
Shared Services and 3rd Party Agreements: Evaluation and management of shared service arrangements; Service on shared services management committees: Joint Court, MCJM, Construction Office, Department of Health/Sanitarian, DPW equipment sharing.
Long Range Traffic & Pedestrian Safety Planning: Planning of street traffic, sidewalk and parking practices and improvements.
Council members also serve on the Madison-Chatham Joint Meeting, which operates the sewage treatment plant located in Chatham Borough on North Passaic Avenue that is shared with Madison, and its Finance and Personnel Committee.
Municipal laws, known as ordinances, are adopted by the Borough Council. These ordinances cover a wide range of topics, including speed limits, parking, the various boards, commissions and committees, and land use.
A proposed ordinance is introduced at a Borough Council business meeting on what is called the “first reading.” After introduction, it is advertised in full in the official municipal newspaper, currently the Chatham Courier, and posted on the Borough’s web site. The proposed ordinance is then “introduced on second reading” at the “hearing,” which takes place at another scheduled business meeting. The ordinance can then be passed, defeated, or held over for further consideration. If the ordinance passes, it is signed into law by the mayor and then advertised, by title only, in the official newspaper. Adopted ordinances are codified and can be reviewed in The Code of Chatham Borough.
OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS LAW
New Jersey’s “Open Public Meeting Act” took effect on January 19, 1976. The law ensures the right of all citizens to have advance notice of and to attend all meetings of public bodies where discussion or action on public business take place. The act allows certain limited exceptions to protect the public interest and to preserve personal privacy. Such exceptions might include personnel matters, collective bargaining, litigation or contract negotiations, or investigations of violations of the law. The act also requires certain public bodies to set aside a portion of their meetings for the public to make comments.
The Open Public Meetings Law applies to all boards in Chatham that perform governmental functions and spend public funds. These boards must post in January a schedule of the regular meetings for that year. Work or conference meetings are also open to the public. Boards may hold special meetings by posting a “48-hour notice” in a public place and publishing in two newspapers. Specific restrictions apply to emergency meetings so that the public receives notice as soon as possible. The law requires that each public body keep minutes of its meetings and make those minutes promptly available to the public.
Boards/Commissions and Advisory Committees
Many Chatham citizens serve the community on various boards and commissions that oversee specific governmental areas, especially in matters relating to land use. The members of these bodies are not paid for their service, but the service they provide is essential to the community. Members are appointed to these bodies by the mayor, by the mayor with the consent of the Council, or by the Council, depending on the applicable state law or municipal ordinance. To apply to serve on a board, commission or committee, simply submit the “Application for Appointment to Borough Boards, Commissions and Committees” available on the website and at the Municipal Clerk’s office.
The Planning Board consists of six citizens appointed for four-year terms, the mayor, one Borough council member, one municipal official, and two alternates, appointed for one-year terms. The Planning Board’s responsibilities include adoption of a Master Plan and development of zoning ordinance. Members must be familiar with municipal land use laws and local ordinances and attend a half-day state-mandated training class.
ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
The Zoning Board of Adjustment has seven members, appointed for four-year terms, and two alternates, appointed for a one-year term. One member is also a member of the planning board. Members must be familiar with municipal land use laws and local ordinances and attend a half-day state-mandated training class.
The Environmental Commission has seven members appointed for three-year terms, including one representative from the Planning Board. This commission has played a major role in preserving open space, monitors environmental concerns and is also authorized to review site plans. The Environmental Commission has been the host of Chatham’s Green Fairs.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION
The Historic Preservation Commission, created in 1988, advises the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment on applications that involve historic sites or properties within the historic district. The commission has five members appointed for four-year terms and two alternates who serve for two alternating terms.
BOARD OF HEALTH
The Board of Health consists of seven members appointed for three-year terms. This board grants food licenses and investigates health related complaints. A state licensed health officer and a sanitarian carry out the board’s inspections and licensing.
SHADE TREE COMMISSION
Five members of the Shade Tree Commission, appointed for five-year terms, oversee the planting and removal of Borough owned trees and advise on their placement and choice of species.
THE LIBRARY OF THE CHATHAMS AND THE LIBRARY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The mayors of Chatham Borough and Chatham Township, the superintendent of schools, and three members from each town sit on the library board of trustees. The community members are appointed for five-year terms. The board oversees the operation of the Library of the Chathams.
CHATHAM JOINT RECREATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The mayors of Chatham Borough and Chatham Township, a Borough council member, a Township committee member, a representative of the School District of the Chathams, and three residents from each town constitute the regular members of the Joint Recreation Advisory Committee, which provides advice and recommends policy regarding the joint recreation program.
CHATHAM BOROUGH EMPLOYEES
Chatham Borough has about 50 full time and several part time employees. An employee is hired by the Borough Council upon the recommendation of the pertinent council committee and department head. Chatham has no civil service commission. Employees are promoted on the basis of merit. An annual salary review considers merit and increases in the cost of living. The Chatham Boro DPW Association, Inc. represents employees in the public works department. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association represents members of the police department.
Employees of Chatham Borough come under one of two retirement programs. All employees, other than those of the police department, are covered by the Public Employees’ Retirement System of New Jersey. Police officers are members of the State Police and Fireman’s Retirement System. Both the employees and the Borough contribute to these programs. Employees are also provided health insurance.
BOROUGH ADMINISTRATOR - In 1970 the position of Borough Administrator was established by local ordinance. The administrator manages the business affairs of the Borough, consults with department heads about operations, and directs corrective action when necessary. The administrator also attends meetings with the mayor and the Borough Council and makes recommendations to the Council on municipal budgets, financial, operational and personnel matters.
BOROUGH ATTORNEY - The Borough Attorney, appointed annually by the Mayor and Council, attends Council meetings and work sessions. The Borough attorney’s office represents the Borough in legal matters and draws up some Borough ordinances and resolutions. The Borough attorney is not an employee of the Borough, but is instead an attorney who works for the Borough pursuant to a professional services contract.
BOROUGH CLERK - The Borough Clerk is appointed by the Mayor and Council and gains tenure after five years. Duties include attending and keeping minutes of all Council meetings, advertising hearings, as well as attesting contracts, deeds, and certificates of indebtedness. The Borough Clerk also registers voters and sends registration records to the County Board of Elections, receives nominating petitions of candidates for local and county committee offices, and notifies successful candidates and certifies their election. In addition, the Borough Clerk is the registrar of all Borough vital statistics, assumes custody of all Borough records and issues certain licenses and permits, such as birth, death and marriage certificates.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER - The Chief Financial Officer oversees functions such as development and management of the budget, purchasing, bill paying, payroll, and investment.
TAX ASSESSOR - The Tax Assessor is licensed and certified by the state and appointed by the mayor and council. The assessor is responsible for assessing all properties in town. Property assessments are the basis for determining the tax rate.
TAX COLLECTOR - The Tax Collector is responsible for mailing tax bills and collecting tax payments. A professional property evaluation performed by the tax assessor is the basis of the tax rate. The tax rate is set by the Borough Council and determines the amount of taxes owed on each property.
BOROUGH ENGINEER - The Borough Engineer is responsible for drawing up plans and specifications for all municipal construction, for seal-coating of roads, and for installation of sidewalks. The engineer reviews all subdivision and site plans submitted to the planning board and is responsible for inspection of subdivisions.
ZONING OFFICER - The Zoning Officer is responsible for assuring that use of property in the Borough conforms to the local zoning ordinances.
JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT OF MADISON, THE CHATHAMS AND HARDING - Established in February 2011, the Joint Municipal Court holds probable cause hearings on all indictable offenses. County authorities then handle the case when the accused is subject to indictment and trial by jury. Other serious cases are referred to the county court in Morristown.
JOINT MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGE - The municipal court judge presides over the Joint Municipal Court. Municipal court is in session at Madison Borough Hall. Jurisdiction includes violations of municipal ordinances, motor vehicle and traffic laws, fish and game laws, and the Disorderly Persons Act. The judge may arraign persons accused of a crime committed in the Borough, issue warrants for arrest and search, and set bail.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES
New Jersey’s Senators are Cory Booker (Democrat) and Robert Menendez (Democrat).
Chatham Borough is in the 11th Congressional District, which is represented in Congress by Rodney Frelinghuysen (Republican).
STATE GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES
The source of all municipal power comes from the state, which has delegated certain powers and responsibilities. State influences felt most directly concern state highways, licensing and inspection activities of the Division of Motor Vehicles, environmental protection, and the state sales and income taxes.
Chatham Borough is in the 21st Legislative District and is represented in the State Senate by Senator Thomas Kean, Jr. (Republican) and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (Republican) and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (Republican).
County governments in New Jersey, like municipal governments, derive all of their powers from the state. Services provided by Morris County are in the following areas: courts and law enforcement; health, welfare, and institutions; education; county roads and bridges; and the recording of documents. Other services provided by Morris County include a county library, parks, mosquito control, and county planning. State-appointed and state-paid county commissions oversee the areas of taxation and elections.
The Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, which administers the county government system, has seven members elected from the county at large.