The Borough of Fair Lawn operates under the Council-Manager form of government as provided in New Jerseys Optional Municipal Charter Law commonly referred to as the Faulkner Act.
There shall be a Council elected in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40: 69A-81 et seq., which shall be comprised of five members, elected at large, one of whom shall be elected by the Council as Mayor, as provided by law. One of the members of the Council shall also be elected by the Council to be Deputy Mayor, and one of the members of the Council shall be elected by the Council to be Deputy Mayor for Community Affairs. The term of office of each Councilperson elected at a regular general election shall serve for a term of four (4) years pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:69A-83. Vacancies in office shall be determined pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:16-1 et seq., known as the" Municipal Vacancy Law."
The Mayor and Council have the responsibility for all legislative and policy matters, including the enactment of ordinances and resolutions. The Mayor and Council formulates policy and legislation based on input from the Borough Manager and his/her staff, general citizenry, advisory boards and committees (which they may create or abolish as needs change).
As provided in NJSA 40:69A-91, the Council shall act in all manners as a body and may only deal with the administrative services solely through the Borough Manager and shall not give any orders to any subordinate of the Borough Manager, either privately or professionally.
The Borough Manager is appointed by the Council to serve as the municipal chief executive and administrative official. The Borough Manager is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Borough. The Borough Manager hires all Borough employees, directs and supervises all Borough employees, directs and coordinates all Borough services and enforces the municipal ordinances established by the Mayor and Council.
The "Open Public Meetings Act", commonly known as the "Sunshine Law" allows a citizen to sit in on the business of both Regular & Work Session Meetings. However, the public is not permitted to attend "Closed Sessions" of these meetings. The "Closed Sessions" are usually related to matters in litigation or personnel issues.
To assist you in understanding the proceedings at the Borough Council meetings, the below summary has been prepared. We hope that you will find this information useful in explaining the procedures your Governing Body must follow. Should you have any questions relating to local government, please contact the Municipal Clerk's Office at 201-794-5340 or the Borough Manager's Office at 201-794-5310.
Meetings, Ordinances & Resolutions:
The Council meets at least once a month at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers. An agenda outlining the order of the meeting and listing the individual items which must be acted upon is prepared and posted on this website the Friday before the meeting. The Council takes formal action to introduce and adopt ordinances, pass resolutions and to recognize and commend various people and events that occur in the Borough. The Council meeting is also an opportunity for the public to ask questions or present their concerns or to ask for updates on any on-going topics or projects of general interest to the residents of the Borough.
Council Work Session:
The Council holds at least one work session a month at 7:30 p.m. in Room 201. An agenda setting forth each item that will be discussed is prepared and posted on this website the Friday before the meeting. Each Councilmember as well as the Administrative staff has the opportunity to place items on the agenda for discussion. Once an item has been discussed and direction given to the staff, the necessary resolution or ordinance is then placed on the next Council Regular Meeting agenda. If further information is required before a final decision can be made, the item can be carried to another work session.
Broadly speaking, an ordinance is a formal enactment adopted by the Mayor and Council. Ordinances are laws enacted by the Mayor and Council and are of permanent effect. There is a specific procedure for passing an Ordinance. Ordinances are introduced and shall pass a first reading and that said ordinance shall be further considered for final passage at the next regular meeting of the Borough Council or as soon thereafter as the matter can be reached. At said time and place, all persons interested are given an opportunity to be heard concerning the ordinance. The ordinance is published according to law prior to the public hearing with a notice of its introduction and of the time and place, when, and where said ordinance will be considered for final passage. The ordinance is posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building on which bulletin board public notices are customarily posted, and that copies of said ordinance are made available to members of the general public requesting the same. After the public hearing is held, the Mayor and Council votes on adoption of same by a majority vote and the Municipal Clerk advertises the ordinance according to law.
Many official actions of the Borough may be accomplished by a Resolution of the Mayor and Council. These include but are not limited to approval of minutes, awarding of contracts, extension of contracts, awarding professional services and other various miscellaneous Borough matters. A Resolution only requires one reading (adopted the same night it is introduced).
Resolutions by Consent:
Some official actions of the Borough are handled through adopting a Consent Agenda. Consent Agendas provide for a rapid, effective action on routine matters which have been previously reviewed by the Mayor and Council. A Consent Agenda includes routine items of business and do not require individual discussion. To adopt a Consent Agenda, it is moved, seconded then voted upon as one item by the Mayor and Council. If any discussion is requested on a Consent Agenda item, it is removed from the Consent Agenda and discussed separately.
Differences between Ordinances and Resolutions:
Generally, ordinances have a greater regulatory capacity than resolutions. Resolutions may be prepared according to a specific format and are shown on agendas before meetings of the Mayor and Council. The vast majority of resolutions are used to perform the day-to-day administrative tasks of the Borough. Ordinances establish a more definite and general concept. Ordinances are adopted to solve problems both immediate and anticipated and often identify penalties for violation of their contents. Subjects covered by ordinances are infinite in nature, but some common subjects are general provisions; administrative procedures and departments; personnel; salaries and compensation; code of ethics; Police Department; Fire Department; fire prevention; library; land development; traffic; vehicles; fees; licensing; animals; construction code; fences; junkyards; water; sewers; solid waste; streets and sidewalks; trees; towing; peddling and soliciting; noise; property maintenance; public health and safety issues; rent control; parks and recreation.
Public Comment Portion of Council Meeting or Work Session:
Before the Council meeting or Work Session concludes the meeting is opened to the public to speak on any topic. This allows a citizen the privilege of the floor for five minutes to address the Council on any matter that is of concern to them.
Meetings are televised by Fair Lawn TV on Cablevision Channel 77 or Verizon FiOS Channel 37 and re-broadcasted during the week.