Morris County is governed by a seven-member Board of County Commissioners, who serve three-year terms.
The Commissioner Board sets policies for the operation of six super-departments, more than 30 divisions plus authorities, commissions, boards and study committees. Actual day-to-day operation of departments is supervised by the county administrator. The Board of County Commissioners has been granted broad powers by the state legislature to regulate county property, finances and affairs.
Meeting generally take place on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.
Public meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. Most of the public meetings are in the Public Meeting Room, 5th floor, Administration & Records Building, Court Street, Morristown. Please note there is a public comment portion at every evening meeting.
Commissioner work sessions begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Knox Room, also on the 5th floor of the Administration & Records Building. While the public is invited to attend the work sessions, there is no public comment portion of the meeting unless granted by the Commissioner Director.
Note: meeting recordings are hosted on a website called Soundcloud. You can listen to any recording from the beginning, but if you want to scrub through a recording (start listening from the middle, for example), you'll need a free Soundcloud account.
Additional information about any resolution or ordinance that appears on the agenda can be obtained by calling the Office of the Morris County Counsel at 973-829-8060. For all other questions, please contact the office of the Clerk of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners at 973-285-6010.
What is a Commissioner?
Morris County is governed by a seven-member Board of County Commissioners. The members are elected at large to serve three-year terms. It is not unusual for a Commissioner to spend between 30 and 40 hours a week on activities related to the part-time position. The Commissioner Board sets policies for the operation of six super-departments, more than 30 divisions plus authorities, commissions, boards and study committees. Actual day-to-day operation of departments is supervised by the county administrator. The Board of County Commissioners has been granted broad powers by the state legislature to regulate county property, finances and affairs.
The Commissioner Board’s duties include:
- Preparing and adopting the county budget.
- Authorizing expenditures and bonds.
- Appointing county officials and members to boards, commissions and authorities.
- Passing on all claims against the county.
- Supervising the administration of county government.
The Commissioners are the center of legislative and administrative responsibility in Morris County and, as such, perform a dual role. As legislators they draw up and adopt a budget, and in the role of administrators they are responsible for spending the funds they have appropriated. Many of these duties in Morris County have been delegated by the Board of County Commissioners to the county administrator.
In New Jersey’s early history, any person who owned land free from debts, mortgages, other legal claims or liens was a “freeholder.” Those who were elected to serve were the “Chosen Freeholders.” At first, legislative functions were performed by the Courts, later by a Board of Chosen Freeholders and Justices.
Gradually, the judges became increasingly involved with judicial concerns and in 1798 the State Legislature established the Board of Chosen Freeholders as the legislative and administrative head of county government in New Jersey. In 2020, the State Legislature voted to change the name “Freeholder” to “County Commissioner.”
As a result, the 21 counties of New Jersey serve as a middle level of government between the state and federal governments and the municipalities. The counties deal with regional problems such as solid waste disposal and water supply, as well as the historic responsibility with the courts, roads, general government, and the conduct of elections.
For the first half of the nineteenth century, the system of apportioning freeholders remained absolutely rigid; two freeholders for each township, town or city. But when the number of townships in the county began to grow at an appreciable rate, the board membership became unwieldy.
For example, in Morris County between 1806 and 1918 the number of persons sitting on the Board of Chosen Freeholders (now County Commissioners) ranged from 20 to 27. In the latter year the first small board (five members) was seated in Morris County. It was expanded to its present seven member size in 1972.