Monmouth County Sheriff, other county bigwigs received illegal pay raises, state comptroller’s office claims

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TRENTON – An investigation by the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) finds that the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners disregarded the public process required by law to raise commissioners’ salaries. The Board also did not follow the public process to increase the County Sheriff’s salary.

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden also serves as the chairman of the Monmouth County GOP and wields strong political influence of the all-Republican county board of commissioners.

In order to raise their own salaries, County commissioners must follow a five-step, public process, which includes introducing a resolution with the salary change, providing notice of a public hearing, holding the public hearing, and voting in a public meeting on the resolution approving the increase.

State law also allows members of the public to challenge a salary increase and to require it to be voted on during the general election.

The County did not follow any of the steps of this process when it raised commissioners’ annual salaries from $27,000 to $30,000 in 2020.

OSC’s investigation also found that the County did not pass a resolution or follow the public process to increase the Sheriff’s salary. That salary increased from $136,133 to $178,343 between 2016 and 2021.

By not following the public process, the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners deprived voters an opportunity to participate in the county government in the way required by law.  Circumventing the public process undermines transparency and public confidence in local government.

OSC in a letter sent today recommends that in the future the Board of Commissioners should strictly adhere to the public process set forth by state law when modifying the salaries of commissioners and the Sheriff. In response to OSC’s findings, the County has proposed a resolution raising the Commissioners’ salaries and has now passed a resolution raising the Sheriff’s.

OSC’s investigation was initiated when it received multiple complaints alleging that the Board had not followed statutory requirements for increasing their salaries. To report government fraud, waste, mismanagement or corruption, file a complaint with OSC or call 1-855-OSC-TIPS.