The county budget and expenditures are regulated by New Jersey statutes, and regulations enacted by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
The Freeholder budget subcommittee meets at least monthly throughout the year, more frequently during budget preparation. The committee analyzes expenditures and adjusts priorities to meet the needs of Morris County. In addition to reviewing expenditure details, it prepares for the coming year, with long-term financial stability as its primary focus. The budget subcommittee includes three Freeholders, the county administrator, assistant county administrator and county treasurer. Other department heads and staff members are called upon to participate as needed.
Morris County operates on a calendar year budget. Beginning in late July, the various departments set forth what they need in order to operate during the next calendar year. Requests are reviewed by department heads and county administration. A Freeholder budget subcommittee analyzes all requests to ensure the county will meet its obligations and priorities, while maintaining fiscal prudence.
Each year, at the Freeholder reorganization meeting in early January, a “temporary” budget is adopted. It allows county government to continue to operate while awaiting certain data for the full-year budget. The “temporary” budget is equivalent to 26.5% of the prior year’s budget. Should the full-year budget not be adopted by the end of March, it could be necessary to increase the “temporary” budget, which would be done at a public meeting by resolution of the Freeholders.
All county and municipal budgets must be reviewed by, and approved by, the NJ Local Finance Board, Division of Local Government Services, prior to formal introduction.
The full-year budget is introduced at a Freeholder public meeting, typically late in February. A majority of the Freeholders must vote to “introduce” the budget. Once introduced, it is published in the county document library on Scribd.com for public review. Approximately 4 weeks later, at another Freeholder public meeting, a formal public hearing is held at which members of the public can ask questions or make comments about the budget. After considering the public comments, the Freeholders vote to adopt (or not) the budget.
Budget adoption normally takes place in late March and, once adopted, the budget becomes the financial plan for the activities of the year.
Each budgetary account is broken down into two categories: Salaries & Wages (S&W) and Other Expenses (OE). The budget will control county government during the year, since transfers cannot be made from one budget account to another before November 1. The process forces county government to carefully project anticipated expenditures.