February 19, 2007

County will not allow budget hearings to be recorded

The Union County Watchdog Association recently requested permission of the County of Union to video tape their budget hearings. It was our intent to then upload the hearings to our website for free public access.

The county will not allow the UCWA to record the hearings. The County will not be recoding the hearings either despite recently spending $110,000 tax-dollars upgrading their audio and visual equipment.
Re: Your notice of intention to video record the Budget Hearings of the Fiscal Affairs Committee

Mrs. Renna:

Receipt of your February 11, 2007 notice of your intention, pursuant to the “Guidelines For The Utilization of Recording Devices During Open Public Meetings of The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders” to video the meetings of the Fiscal Affairs Committee scheduled for February 21, 2007, February 24, 2007, February 28, 2007 and March 8, 2007 is hereby acknowledged. Please be advised that, for the reasons set forth below, you will not be permitted to video the aforementioned meetings of the Freeholders’ Fiscal Affairs Committee.

Please be advised that the referenced “Guidelines” do not apply to working-Freeholder Committee Meetings, which are routinely held in conference rooms; but rather they apply to Open Public Meetings of the Board as a whole, held in the Freeholder Meeting Room. As you well know, the committee meetings in question relate to the County’s 2007 Budget and historically such budget meetings are attended by Freeholders that are not committee members. With the probability that 5 or more Freeholders will attend some or all of these meetings, the County, pursuant to the “Sunshine Law,” publicly notices same. These Committee meetings do not constitute traditional “Open Public Meetings” and there is no public participation permitted at these working meetings of the Committee. Additionally, the conference room, where this Committee convenes, is not conducive to videotaping activities while Committee hearings are being conducted. Of course, the public is given every opportunity to participate and comment at the public, budget hearings conducted by the full--Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and anticipated cooperation.

Nicole L. DiRado
Nicole L. DiRado, RMC, MPA, Clerk of the Board
Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Worrall Community Newspapers
Officials embark on budget process

By Lauren DeFilippo, Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:29 PM EST

UNION COUNTY, NJ - The county’s 2007 budget is expected to be introduced to the freeholder board this week.

County Manager George Devanney announced his $415 million executive budget last month, which included the elimination of 50 positions and, for the fifth year in a row, an increased tax levy.

After the executive budget is announced, a copy is sent to the state for approval. Following that approval, the freeholders commence budget hearings, and make amendments. The revised budget is then introduced during the month of May.

The freeholder board typically adopts the budget in June. The county’s fiscal year begins on Jan. 1

Those hearings, which are open to the public, are set to begin Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on the sixth floor of the County Administration Building, located on Elizabethtown Plaza.

During each hearing, department heads present their budget requests to the finance committee and propose potential cost saving measures. The schedule of departments has not yet been released.

Other hearings are slated for Feb. 24 at 9 a.m., and Feb. 28. and March 8 at 5:30 p.m..

Following the hearings, the freeholder board will make changes and recommendations to the budget.

The county budget is typically adopted in June.
Lauren DeFilippo can be reached at 908-686-7700, ext. 119, or unioncountyb@thelocalsource.com.