The New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA) gives New Jersey citizens (See Harry Scheeler, Jr. v. Burlington Twp; GRC Complaint No 2015-93 Ruling) greater access to public inspection and duplication of disclosable government records through the filing of an OPRA Request. New Jersey citizens have access to government records except for those documents that fall under defined exclusions. Under OPRA, the Hamilton Township Clerk has been designated as the official Custodian of Records. A summary of the procedures, forms and timetables for access are explained in more detail below. You may submit your completed OPRA request to BCalderone@Hamiltonnj.com. It is important to know that OPRA does NOT cover the judicial branch or municipal court, as they are regulated by other statutes. If you wish to receive copies of court records, please use the following link https://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/forms/10200_records_req.pdf and file with the appropriate court system.
What is a government record?
A government record is a record that has a government purpose and that is held by a public agency. Under OPRA, the "physical record" includes any paper, written or printed book, document, drawing, map, plan, photograph, microfilm, data-processed or image-processed document, and information stored or maintained electronically or by sound recording.
What government records are accessible?
For the most part, all government records are accessible to the public except those that fall under the exemptions to public access as set forth in OPRA. Examples of public records that are available to the public include minutes of public meetings, budgets, bills, vouchers, and contracts.
Why are some records exempt from disclosure?
Under OPRA, certain records are exempt from access to the public because citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding records in possession of a public agency and public safety concerns.
How do I obtain a government record from Hamilton Township?
The procedure for obtaining a government record from Hamilton Township is straightforward. It is important to note, however, that you need to know what record(s) you want. For example, the Municipal Clerk will be unable to fulfill a request for "all meeting minutes where the budget was discussed." In order for your request to be processed, you will be required to provide an accurate description of each record sought.
If you wish to obtain a government record, you must file a RECORDS REQUEST which is available on-line. This form is keyboard fillable which can then be printed, signed in original ink signature and dropped-off or mailed to this office for processing. Please note that this office DOES NOT accept facsimile requests.
When can I except to receive the document(s)?
Any record that is readily available to the Municipal Clerk will be processed at the time of the request and we make every effort to provide access as soon as possible. For records that are not immediately available, the Municipal Clerk has seven (7) business days to provide the requested documents, deny access, or inform the requestor of additional time it will take to fulfill the request. The business hours of this office at 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Any request received after close of business day will be considered received the following business day. NJ OPRA law provides that Day One (1) is the day following the custodian's receipt of the request. If the request involves a large amount of information or the information is archived, both the requestor and Municipal Clerk will agree to an extension of time.
What happens if my request is denied?
If the Municipal Clerk denies the request, you may file a complaint with the Government Records Council (GRC) for relief. Please see "A Citizen's Guide to the Open Public Records Act" at the state's website for more information.
The copy fee is .05¢ per page. At the discretion of the Municipal Clerk, a deposit or prepayment of fees may be required for voluminous requests or those received from anonymous requestors. Items such as audio or video tapes, maps, hearing transcripts, exhibits, drawings, etc. will be charged based upon the actual cost to the municipality for reproduction of such items. In addition, a special service charge may be assessed whenever an extraordinary expenditure of time and effort is required to fulfill a request because of the nature, format, manner of collation or volume of government records requested. The Municipal Clerk will inform the requestor in writing as to any special charges, necessary deposits or prepayments of fees.
Please contact our office at (609) 890-3622 or view the state website for answers to your questions http://www.nj.gov/grc/index.shtml Completed OPRA requests can be submitted to EGore@Hamiltonnj.com