TRENTON – An attempt to give towns the option of posting legal notices online bypassing newspapers has surfaced on today’s legislative board list for a vote.
A controversial bill with print publications, S2072/A2082 authorizes governments as well as school districts to post such notices on official government websites.
In a fiscal estimate on the bill done in July 2010, the Office of Legislative Services noted that “According to the New Jersey Press Association, local governments spend approximately $20 million on the legally required publication of official notices. Approximately 60 percent of this amount is reimbursed to the local governments by private entities. $8 million is funded by the local governments only.”
Some bill opponents see it as an attack on the media, but supporters such as the N.J. League of Municipalities see it as a key way for towns to save taxpayers’ money.
League Executive Director Bill Dressel said today the online legal notices bill is part of the so-called “tool kit’’ that Gov. Christie championed as a means to help municipalities cut costs.
Dressel said it would be strictly voluntary on the part of a town.
“We don’t see it as bypassing transparency,’’ he said. “It will address issues of transparency by using the web site as a medium for communicating. More and more towns have been using the internet. It is new technology that is taking off.’’
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