New Brick Council's Power Will be Tempered
Brick's form of government provides for a 'strong mayor'; Brick to re-up with Gilmore firm for legal services in 2012
Here's a quick lesson in New Jersey municipal government for everyone: there are five types of municipal government structures in the Garden State, and there are 11 forms of those governments.
In Brick, our type of government is a township (that part is kind of obvious) and our form of government is the Mayor-Council form, under what is known as the Faulkner Act, a law passed in 1950 and updated in 1981.
Simply put, that means there is a "strong mayor" and "weak council" in Brick. The mayor acts as a chief executive, while the council controls the purse strings. It also means, however, that while elected council members set policy and are responsible for passing the municipal budget, they are not empowered to make such appointments as municipal attorney, engineer and some other professional services providers.
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis said Brick will continue to retain the services of Gilmore & Monahan, a locally influential, GOP-aligned law firm that may not have been the first choice of the four Democrats who won a majority in the November council elections. He said Birdsall Engineering will continue on as the township's engineer services provider. There is little wiggle room for the council to oppose certain professional appointments, no matter how they may feel about them, the mayor said.
"The courts have held that the township council cannot hold up the administrative functions, or the running of the township," said Acropolis. "The council's powers really lie with the budget."
Indeed, while the mayor will propose a municipal budget after the new year, the council will have the final say as to what, where and how much money will be spent next year.
Many municipalities in New Jersey use the same type and form of government as Brick. In Ocean County, municipalities using the Faulkner Act type of government include Berkeley Township, Jackson Township, Manchester Township and Toms River Township.