Bergen County, New Jersey

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Transparency Grade
Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Permits, zoning
Audits N
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Contracts P
Lobbying N
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Public records
Local taxes
County websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process
Bergen County is one of 21 counties in New Jersey. It has a population of 905,116 that is part of the New York Metropolitan Area and also boasts the 16th highest income per capita as of 2009.[1]

Website evaluation

The good

  • Provides a government open records request form.[2]
  • County freeholders are listed with contact information.[3]
  • Freeholder meeting agendas[4] and videos are provided.[5]
  • Includes info on local taxes.[6]
  • Budget summary is online.[7]
  • Current bids posted.[8]
  • Permits and zoning are not applied at a county level in New Jersey.

The bad


The 2011 budget is $487,137,881 which is $525,000 lower than the 2010 budget. $351 million is expected to be garnered from taxes.[9] The vote on the budget was 5-2 with both Democrats being the dissenters.[10]


Bergen County has received $252,383,083 from the economic stimulus package.[11]

# of Awards Total Amount Reported Jobs
Contracts 81 $5,247,321 27.02
Grants 273 $199,909,811 166.7
Loans 0 $0 0
Total 354 $252,383,083 193.72

Public Employees

Elected Officials

Term Length[12]

  • 3 years, staggered
  • November elections


  • Legislative body
  • Check on the executive branch (County Executive)
  • Approves contracts
  • Budget

The Board of Freeholders is made up of 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats.[14]

First Last Position Term Expiration
John Driscoll Jr. Chairman 2012
Maura DeNicole Vice-Chairwoman 2013
John Felice Member 2013
David Ganz Member 2011
Robert Hermansen Member 2012
Bernadette McPherson Member 2011
John Mitchell Member 2013

Administrative Officials

The County Executive is Kathleen Donovan. The County Executive enforces the policies passed by the Freeholders and appoints department heads.[15] Donovan has been criticized for collecting her pension from her years as county clerk while receiving her salary as County Executive.[16] Democrats have also called her a hypocrite for buying $1,900 worth of pens and pencils with her name on them when she said she wouldn't use taxpayer funds to put her name on equipment.[17]

First Last Position
Kathleen Donovan Bergen County Executive
Ed Trawinski County Administrator
Elizabeth Randall County Clerk
Michael Saudino County Sheriff
Michael Dressler County Surrogate


See also: New Jersey public pensions

According to the 2011 budget document, pension costs (PERS) were $1,953,495 and pension costs (PFRS) $2,443,178.[18]

Six Bergen County employees are collecting a pension along with their annual salary.[19]

Official Position Salary Annual Pension Total
Kathleen Donovan County Executive $134,617 $73,228 $207,845.00
Michael Saudino Sheriff $138,000.00 $129,987 $267,987.00
Steven Librie Undersheriff $115,000.00 $104,453 $219,453.00
Brian Smith Undersheriff $110,000 $106,709 $216,709.00
Harry Shortway Undersheriff $110,000 $75,096.00 $185,096.00
Robert Colaneri Undersheriff $110,000 $93,501.00 $203,501.00


See also: Bergen County employee salaries

  • The median teacher salary in Bergen is $61,096.[20]
  • The Bergen County Community College President, G. Jeremiah Ryan, has a salary of $192,400 along with a $14,000 a year housing stipend, a leased car, possible $4,000 performance bonus, and a $50,000 travel and expense allowance of which he spends half each year.[21]
  • As of 2009 the average police officer's base pay was $103,649 with 68.5% of officers in the county earning more than $100,000 a year.[22]
  • Department heads of parks, public works, and human services earned $121,182 in 2010.[23]
  • County Executive Kathleen Donovan merged Public Safety Director and Police Chief and named Brian Higgins to the position with a salary of $175,555 which will save $288,000 a year.[24]


Main article:New Jersey government sector lobbying

Bergen County has reported more than $150,000 spent lobbying since 2005 (see table).

Reported lobbying expenditures, 2005-2011[25]
Year Amount spent on lobbying
2011 None Reported
2010 $46,000
2009 $68,000
2008 $30,000
2007 Less than $10,000
2006 Less than $10,000
2005 Less than $10,000

The Bergen County Improvement Authority has reported $620,000 spent lobbying since 2004 (see table).

Improvement Authority, lobbying expenditures 2004-2011[26]
Year Amount spent on lobbying
2011 Less than $20,000
2010 $30,000
2009 $80,000
2008 $110,000
2007 $140,000
2006 $120,000
2005 $120,000
2004 $120,000

In addition to this, the Bergen County Department of Planning & Development spent $25,000 in 2008 on lobbying.[27] Total, Bergen County has reported more than $695,000 total on lobbying since 2004.

Transparency & public records

The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) was passed by the NJ State Legislature in 2001 and guarantees citizen access to a wide variety of government documents. For more information on OPRA and public records see OPRA Central. Provides a government open records request form.[28]


Those who pay property taxes in Bergen County have rights outlined the in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.[29]

External links