New Jersey’s independent local authorities should increase their transparency by posting annual financial reports and public meeting information online, according to state Comptroller Matthew Boxer.

The comptroller released a report Tuesday indicating that many local authorities and commissions, fire departments, housing authorities, and other municipal agencies do not readily provide basic financial statements or general information about their operations to the public.

New Jersey has 587 local agencies, including 214 local authorities and commissions, 185 fire districts, 85 housing authorities, 11 urban enterprise zone development corporations, and other municipal entities. The report showed that of those 587 agencies, more than 200 do not maintain a website.

The 214 municipal authorities include improvement or redevelopment authorities, parking authorities, utility commissions, sewer authorities, port authorities, and other regional entities. Only seven municipal authorities, about 3% of all such entities, post financial reports on their websites.

Boxer recommends that all local agencies create and update websites and include comprehensive annual financial reports or similar financial information, details of public meetings, a description of the agency’s mission and responsibilities, and contact information.

“Too often the public never hears about these local agencies until scandals unfold,” Boxer said in a statement. “But we pay for these agencies every day — when we pay tolls, when we pay our water bills, and when we pay our property taxes.”

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