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Budget Data For More N.J. Towns May Soon Go Online

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Expanded budget information for more New Jersey towns may soon be posted online.

The Assembly recently approved legislation that would require the state Department of Community Affairs to post the current budget — and the last three adopted budgets — of any municipality or county that does not have its own website.

Those with their own websites were already required by law to post their current budgets.

Proponents say putting more data online will increase governmental transparency. It was not immediately clear how many of New Jersey’s 566 towns and 21 counties currently don’t have their own websites.

The Assembly approved the measure Sept. 30 by a 73-0 vote and sent it to the Senate, where it was referred to the budget and appropriations Committee. That panel has not yet scheduled a hearing.

“I see no excuse for not posting local budgets, which are the most basic public information and a key part of the tax bills in every community in this state,” said Assemblywoman Patricia Lampitt, D-Cherry Hill, one the bill’s five primary sponsors in that chamber. “This is a common-sense step toward keeping people informed about what’s driving their property tax bills.”

Another primary sponsor, Paul Moriarty, D-Turnersville, said getting budget information online is the only option for many residents.

“If a municipality or county doesn’t have a website, a taxpayer seeking to inspect either the county or municipal budget would have to travel to the local library or a government facility,” Moriarty said. “That may be inconvenient or even impossible for some taxpayers, especially senior citizens, depriving them of an opportunity to examine the plans that their property taxes support.”

Besides Lampitt and Moriarty, the other primary sponsors were fellow Democrats Nelson Albano and Matthew W. Milam, both of Cape May Court House, and Linda Greenstein, of Hamilton (Mercer County). Sen. Fred Madden, D-Turnersville, is sponsoring the measure in that chamber.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)