Did the Township Committees in Lawrence and Commercial designate their attorney as "Property Administrator" for the sole purpose of circumventing the State Legislature's attempt to "limit abuse" of the pension system?

You decide.

By way of an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, I received an Aug. 23, 2010, letter from Division of Pensions and Benefits to the attorney who then served (and still serves) as solicitor for both Lawrence and Commercial townships.

I've placed the letter online here.

The letter shows that in 2008 both Lawrence and Commercial designated the solicitor as "Property Administrator" and began reporting his salary in that position for pension purposes.

The Division of Pension and Benefits, however, found "that the position of 'Property Administrator' (was) designed to disguise (the attorney's) true relationship, thereby facilitating (his) continued membership in the PERS" pension system.

Accordingly, the Division ruled that the attorney was "not eligible."

The townships' placement of the attorney into the "Property Administrator" position took effect immediately after pension reform legislation, P.L. 2007, c. 29, took effect.

Section 20 of this legislation removed municipal attorneys and other professionals from the PERS pension system.

According to Gov. Corzine's May 10, 2007 press release, which was issued when he signed the legislation into law, P.L. 2007, c. 29 was passed to "provide long-term cost-savings and limit abuses of the state-administered pension systems."

John Paff,
Chairman New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875
Voice: 732-873-1251
Fax: 908-325-0129