From student disciplinary hearings to review of documentation for a major capital project, the borough’s legal department encounters a tremendous range of public law issues. The clients of this municipal department are:

  • The Borough Assembly
  • The Borough Administration
  • The School Board
  • The Borough School District Administration
  • The Borough Service Area Boards and various borough committees, ad hoc work groups and task forces

In their role as advisors, the legal staff draft and review ordinances, resolutions, bidding documents, contracts, and provide legal opinions for the borough and school district. They advise the assembly on legal issues and represent the borough and school district in litigation at all court levels and in administrative hearings, and other related services.

Reducing liability is a primary focus of the legal department’s effort. By reviewing proposed actions to determine whether they are legal, or suggesting changes that comply with applicable laws, the legal department tries to guard suits against school district and borough government. Due to the demands of court cases, special counsel is sometimes retained to represent the borough.

The legal department also advises the borough government and school district on citizens’ due process and other rights to ensure they are protected. Due process questions can arise when the assembly considers legislation regulating land uses, for example, or the school board considers policy changes affecting students’ rights to a public education.

When the borough government enters a contract for:

  • sale or rental of land
  • hiring contractors to perform road maintenance or improvement
  • constructing capital improvements
  • general services, i.e. equipment servicing, consulting, supplies
  • management of borough facilities such as land fills and gravel pits,

or other contracts, the legal department either drafts the contract or reviews it to determine whether it is legally enforceable. Additionally, the reviewer considers proposed actions for compliance with applicable local, state and federal laws.

The likelihood of a local business or taxpayer hearing directly from the legal department is slim, but possible. If sales tax accounts become delinquent or real property taxes fall behind, the default accounts become part of the legal process for collection. For example, delinquent property tax accounts may be referred to the legal department.

The legal department also files lawsuits and takes other actions for collection of sales tax accounts that are delinquent. Finally, the legal department provides legal defense for the borough and school district when a lawsuit is filed against them.