Board of County Commissioners
What is a Freeholder?
The term “Freeholder” can be traced to the colonial period of American history. In New Jersey’s 1776 Constitution, the state vested the power to govern counties in an elected body of “men” who held or owned land outright with no debt or mortgages to be chosen by their peers. The body was deemed the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Although there is no longer a requirement to own land and all citizens of legal age have the right to vote and hold office, the term "Freeholder" has endured. New Jersey has 21 counties governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders. No two counties are exactly the same. Counties’ demographic, geographic, and economic characteristics dictate how they deliver services to their communities. The organization and structure of counties are tailored to fit their communities’ needs and characteristics.
In Passaic County’s commission form of government, the Freeholders discharge both the legislative and executive responsibilities of government. The seven-member board is headed by a Freeholder Director who is selected to serve a one-year term at the Board’s annual reorganization meeting held in January. Each Freeholder is elected at-large for a staggered three-year term.
What do Freeholders do?
The Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders is responsible for an annual budget of about $455 million serving approximately 501,000 residents in 16 municipalities. Some of the things they support and are responsible for include:
Passaic County's 248 miles of roads and 358 bridges
Parks with more than 4,044 acres of recreational and open space
The Passaic County Sheriff ’s Office, with responsibility for county-wide public safety, the Passaic County Jail, and courthouse security; as well as the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office
The Preakness Healthcare Center, a 406-bed skilled nursing facility providing sub-acute, long-term, respite, and hospice care
The Passaic County Community College, serving 8,000 students
The Passaic County Technical Institute, a vocational/technical high school serving 3,200 students
Social Service Programs for the elderly, poor, and people with disabilities
Other services, such as mental health and anti-addiction services, veterans’ programs, and heating assistance