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Posted Thursday, May 10th, 2018


The Morris County Board of Freeholders has unanimously passed a resolution objecting to a state legislative proposal that would eliminate the historic designation of “Board of Freeholders’’ as the official moniker of county governing boards in all 21 New Jersey counties, to be replaced by Board of Commissioners.

Morris County Opposes Legislative Effort to Mandate Change of

The Freeholders, at their meeting this week in Butler, cited history as the compelling reason to maintain the historic “Freeholder’’ designation, and also cited “unnecessary costs’’ that would be required to update all county documents, letterhead, stationary, websites, signs, and other items to make the change.

The following is the Morris County Board of Freeholders’ Resolution opposing Senate and assembly bills to rename “board of chosen freeholders” to “board of county commissioners” and “chosen freeholder” to “county commissioner.”

Morris County Opposes Legislative Effort to Mandate Change of Whereas, the bills would require or permit counties to update their letterheads, stationery, and other writings, as well as their Internet websites, to bear “board of county commissioners” and the title of “county commissioners” within one year of the effective date of this bill;

Whereas, the measure would not require counties to update or replace signs or other writings to reflect this title change within this timeframe, if doing so would require the expenditure of county funds. In such a case, the title would have to be changed whenever the writing is next updated or replaced in the ordinary course of business;

Whereas, the term Freeholder dates back to 15th century English law, and at the time, the title referred to any landowner whose property was not encumbered by a mortgage or lien;

Whereas, while New Jersey was still a British colony, the term “Chosen Freeholder” was used to identify a Freeholder who was elected or appointed from their town to represent the interests of the people of their town in county government;

Whereas, New Jersey declared itself an independent state from Great Britain in 1776;

Whereas, the development of a “Board of Chosen Freeholders” was a major step in the self-government of the people of New Jersey counties over the will of the king distributed to the subjects through magistrates or colonial officials;

Whereas, New Jersey is the only state whose county representatives are called freeholders and such stands as an homage to the state’s rich history;

Whereas, requiring counties to adopt the name “Commissioner” would result in confusion with the many types of commissioners already in existence from those serving on various other government bodies, agencies, and boards;

Whereas, this bill and the purpose of it pale in comparison to the important matters to be considered at the county level every day in order to properly serve our residents and businesses;

Whereas, the expenses to conform with the intention of this bill are unknown and unnecessary;

Be It Resolved, by the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Morris in the State of New Jersey as follows:

  • That this Board opposes this legislation and any similar legislation and urges the State Legislature to reject these bills.
  • A copy of this resolution be sent to our local state representatives, to the New Jersey Association of Counties, Board of Chosen Freeholders of all of the Counties of the State of New Jersey, and to the Honorable Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy.