About County Government

Morris County is nestled amid rolling hills, broad valleys and glittering lakes. We're about 30 miles northwest of New York City. Morris County is New Jersey’s seventh largest county. 

We're home to world headquarters of name brand firms and major shopping markets. We also have three universities, a two-year County College, and a County Vocational Technical School.

Learn about how county government in general, and Morris County specifically, works:

What is county government?

County government is the middle level of government between the state and the municipality.

County government traces its origin to British settlers to the new world who brought with them the concept of the county as a unit of local government and with it the idea that only “freeholders” – those who owned land free of any debt – were eligible to vote and hold public office.

In 2020, the New Jersey state legislature voted to change the name “freeholder” to “county commissioner.”

How many counties are there?

There are 21 county governments in New Jersey.

Do all counties run the same way?

No, five counties in New Jersey are managed by an elected County Executive, and one is managed by an appointed County Manager. The others, including Morris, are governed by an elected Board of County Commissioners. Morris County has seven commissioners elected at-large to serve staggered three-year terms. During the commissioner board’s first meeting in January, the members select a director and deputy director from among themselves.

What do Morris County Commissioners do?

The commissioner board is an elected administrative body that sets policies for the operation of all county services.  That includes six county government departments and their divisions plus authorities, commissions, boards and study committees.

What are the authorities, commissions, boards and study committees?

Authorities, boards and commissions have their members appointed and budgets approved by the commissioners, but may act independently of the commissioner board. Study committees are also appointed by the commissioner board to advise the commissioners on a wide range of issues.

Are there other elected or appointed officials at the county level?


  • The County Clerk is elected for a five-year term.
  • The Surrogate is elected for a five-year term.
  • The Sheriff is elected for a three-year term.
  • The Prosecutor is appointed by the governor for a five-year term.

How does the county operate on a day to day basis?

The actual day-to-day operation of the county government departments (Employee Resources, Finance, Human Services, Law & Public Safety, Planning & Preservation, Information Technology) is supervised by the county administrator.  Each of the seven commissioners serves as a liaison to one of those departments and to other areas of county government.

How is Morris County's government structured?

The Board of County Commissioners oversees the entire county.

Below that is the Clerk of the Board, County Counsel, and County Administrator's Office.

The Administrator's Office is in charge of our six departments.

View our organizational chart:

Morris County organizational chart

What services does the county provide?

The essential services provided by county government are those that either can not appropriately be provided by the state or are beyond the scope or ability of local governments.

County government responsibilities are divided into two distinct types:

  • functions the county must perform as mandated by the state
  • permissive functions the county may carry out in compliance with state law

What services are mandated by law?

The mandatory areas of responsibility are:

  • court facilities (State runs court operations)
  • law enforcement and the operation of a county jail
  • general assistance or welfare
  • education
  • the construction and maintenance of county roads and bridges
  • conducting elections

What other vital services does the county provide?

In addition to required services, Morris County government provides a variety of programs and services which benefit the entire county. County-level management and delivery of these services provides significant cost savings and efficiencies over duplicative services from municipality to municipality. This saves taxpayer dollars, while enhancing the quality of life for those living and working here.

These services include:

Where does Morris County get the revenue to provide these services?

The county government’s major source of revenue is the county property tax. The county tax rate is based on the total equalized value of all property in the county. A voter-approved tax dedicated to funding the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites is also included in the county budget, as are federal and state grants the county may receive to administer various programs.

How does the county budget work?

How is the county budget prepared?

The Morris County Board of County Commissioners each year directs the Commissioner Budget Subcommittee, the county administrator, assistant administrator and the county treasurer to prepare the county budget.

Each department director is involved with the planning and preparation of his or her respective department’s budget. The Commissioner Budget Subcommittee meets throughout the year with those department directors as well as with the various boards, authorities, and commissions within the county government to thoroughly review their budget requests.

Once the Commissioner Budget Subcommittee has developed a tentative budget, it is presented to the full commissioner board for continued assessment and possible revision until it is ready to be formally introduced, usually sometime in February.

What makes up the county budget?

The County budget is one document, made up of two parts: an operating budget and a capital improvement program. Both parts, as one document, are adopted by the Board of County Commissioners at the same time, after state approval and a noticed public hearing.

The operating budget shows revenues and appropriations. Monies can be expended following Board of County Commissioners adoption of the budget.

The capital improvement program is only a plan. Ordinances must be adopted specifying projects and funding sources before funds can be expended. Ordinances can only be adopted after a noticed public hearing and vote by the commissioners.

Are there public hearings about the budget?

One month after its introduction, the budget is the subject of a formal public hearing conducted by the commissioner board during one of its regular public meetings, after which the budget for that calendar year is adopted.

The commissioners adopt a temporary budget at the county’s annual stated organizational meeting at the start of the year, which provides for the orderly continuation of government until the new budget for that year is officially approved.

As a member of the public, how can I express my opinions about the budget?

Your input is welcome throughout the year. You may email the commissioners with your budget suggestions or your thoughts about any other matter, or you may call the commissioners’ office at 973-285-6010. You may also contact us via the website feedback form.

Where can I find more financial information?

The Transparent Government section of our website provides detailed information, including budgets, audits, debt statements, financial statements, and bill lists. A “Learn about…” section is included for those who want to learn more about the Morris County budgeting process, capital budgets, bond ratings, and operating budgets.

Where can I find information about public meetings?

Information about commissioner public meetings and work sessions can be found in the commissioners section of our website. In addition to the Board of County Commissioners meetings, various commissions, boards and authorities hold public meetings. Information about those meetings can be found on the specific commission, board or authority website.

Public meetings can be found on the Morris County government meeting calendar.