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Essex County, New Jersey

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Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Permits, zoning
Audits N
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Lobbying N
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Public records
Local taxes N
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County websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process
Essex County is one of 21 counties in New Jersey. The population is 786,147 as of 2006.[1]

Website evaluation

The good

  • Information and form for public records requests provided.[2]
  • County freeholders are listed with contact information. Meeting agenda and schedule posted.[3]
  • Officials listed in directory.[4]
  • Permits and zoning are not applied at a county level in New Jersey.
  • Budget is posted.[5]
  • Contracts are posted.[6]

The bad


The 2010 budget is $739,777,253 which is $32 million less than in 2009.[7]

Area Cost
Operations $601,195,582
Capital Improvements $700,000
County Debt Service $90,424,578
Deferred Charges $47,257,093
Judgements $100,000
Cash Deficit $0
Total $739,777,253


Essex County has received $1,246,454,421 from the economic stimulus program.[8]

# of Awards Total Amount Reported Jobs
Contracts 41 $139,510,872 84.54
Grants 395 $1,106,943,549 363.7
Loans 0 $0 0
Total 436 $1,246,454,421 448.24

Public Employees

Elected Officials


  • 9 members
  • 5 elected from districts
  • 4 elected at large

Term Length[10]

  • 3 years, concurrent
  • November election


  • Budget
  • Legislative branch
  • Check County Executive
  • Set salaries
  • Certain appointments
First Last Position District
Blonnie Watson President At-Large
Ralph Caputo Vice President District 5
Rufus Johnson Freeholder At-Large
Patricia Sebold Freeholder At-Large
Donald Payne Jr. Freeholder At-Large
Juan Rivera Jr. Freeholder District 1
D. Bilal Beasley Freeholder District 2
Carol Clark Freeholder District 3
Linda Cavanaugh Freeholder District 4
Deborah Ford Clerk Clerk

Administrative Officials

The County Executive is Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.[12]. He is a noted Christie ally and proponent of pension reform. He has been criticized for using a loophole to receive his $68,862 a year pension while earning a $153,207 salary per year.[13] Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, who earns $65,333 as a legislative leader, also earns $83,048 as assistant Essex County administrator.[14]

Pensions and Benefits

See also: New Jersey public pensions

All permanent and unclassified employees are required to enroll in the Public Employees Retirement System of New Jersey, or if applicable, the Police and Firemens Retirement System. Employees who are provisional for one full year and are in an eligible Public Employees Retirement System title, are enrolled in the pension system as a provisional employee. Contributions to the retirement systems are made by both the County of Essex and the employee. Retirement eligibility and benefits arebased on age and years of service, and are determined by the State of New Jersey.[15]

The 2010 budget allocated $17,614,782 for the current year Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) obligation for normal and accrued liability which was $259,000 more than in 2009. It also spent $8,225,880 on the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) which was an 11% increase over 2009.[16]

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. thinks public employees should contribute more to their health care costs. In Essex, non-union employees contribute to their health care costs on a sliding scale.[17]

Earnings % of premium paid by employee
>$50,000 10.00%
>$70,000 15.00%
>$150,000 20.00%
<$150,000 25.00%


See also: Essex County employee salaries

Salaries are not available.


See also: New Jersey government sector lobbying

In 2011, Essex County paid $30,000 for lobbyists to track legislation and lobby for grant dollars.[18]

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.

The form to file a public records request is here.

External links