Delegated Powers of New Jersey Municipalities

Generally, a municipality may exercise its delegated powers "through either an ordinance or a resolution." Inganamort v. Borough of Fort Lee, 72 N.J. 412, 417-18, 371 A.2d 34 (1997). In Inganamort, the Court described the general distinction between an ordinance and a resolution: An ordinance is distinctly a legislative act; a resolution, generally speaking, is simply an expression of opinion or mind concerning some particular item of business coming within the legislative body's official cognizance, ordinarily ministerial in character and relating to the administrative business of the municipality. Thus, it may be stated broadly that all acts that are done by a municipal corporation in its ministerial capacity and for a temporary purpose may be put in the form of resolutions, and that matters upon which the municipal corporation desires to legislate must be put in the form of ordinances. Ibid. (citing McQuillin, Municipal Corporations (3d ed.1973) 14.02 at 43-45 (now McQuillin, Municipal Corporations (revised 3d ed.1996) 15.02 at 59 (footnotes omitted)); see also 34 New Jersey Practice, Local Government Law 6.1 at 201 (Michael A. Pane) (3d ed.1999). It is firmly established that, "when the law requires a proceeding to be instituted by an ordinance, it cannot be effected by resolution." Chasis v. Tumulty, 8 N.J. 147, 153, 84 A.2d 445 (1951). It is also well settled that, "where a statute fails to indicate whether the power should be exercised by ordinance or resolution, it may be done by either means." Fraser v. Township of Teaneck, 1 N.J. 503, 507, 64 A.2d 345 (1949); see Township of North Bergen v. Jersey City, 232 N.J. Super. 219, 224, 556 A.2d 1255 (App.Div.), certif. denied, 117 N.J. 632, 569 A.2d 1334(1989) (reconfirming that where a statute does not expressly require action by ordinance or resolution, the power may be exercised by either means). Accordingly, in the absence of statutory language to the contrary, a local government may enter into a contract by the passage of a resolution. Jersey City v. Town of Harrison, 71 N.J.L. 69, 71, 58 A. 100 (Sup.Ct.1904), aff'd, 72 N.J.L. 185, 62 A. 765 (E. & A.1905). Accord In re Gardiner, 67 N.J. Super. 435, 445, 170 A.2d 820 (App.Div.1961); Buckley v. Mayor of Jersey City, 105 N.J. Eq. 470, 479, 148 A. 630 (Ch.), aff'd, 107 N.J. Eq. 137, 151 A. 905 (E. & A.1930).