About Warren County...Governmental Structure

Warren County operates under the freeholder form of county government. The Board of Chosen Freeholders consists of three Freeholders each elected at large for staggered terms of three years. The Freeholder Director is chosen by the Freeholders at the board’s annual reorganization meeting in January. The Freeholders supervise, direct and administer all county services and functions through the various departments, autonomous boards, agencies and commissions. Reporting to the Board of Chosen Freeholders is an appointed County Administrator.

In addition to its fiscal administration and the responsibility of linking the county’s municipalities with State and other local governmental units, the Board of Chosen Freeholders has these duties:

To fulfill the following legislative responsibilities: (1) formulating county policies; (2) developing new county programs; (3) appointing members of the various commissions and boards; and (4) appropriating funds required from the 22 municipalities of the county to maintain all county services.

And to provide for the following services: (1) general government; (2) regulations; (3) roads and bridges; (4) correctional and penal; (5) health and welfare; and (6) education.

The term “freeholder” originated in England, dating back to at least the 16 th Century. Originally, a Freeholder was a person in the British Royal Court who was considered responsible in character or otherwise in favor with the King, and therefore a worthy recipient as an owner (holder) of land grants in the new American colony.

Many years later, on July 2, 1776, just two days before the Declaration of Independence was adopted in Philadelphia, the Provincial Congress of New Jersey met in Burlington and declared its separation from King George and the British parliament. The meeting provided that qualified voters were to elect various officers under the “hands” (approval) of six Freeholders. Legislation in 1798 set the make-up of Freeholder Boards at one elected representative for each municipality, and in 1904 smaller boards were authorized. Warren is the only remaining county in New Jersey to have a three-member board.