The three county commissioners constitute the chief governing body of the county. Statutory authority of the commissioners is primarily of an administrative nature with legislative or policy-making powers. The county commissioners are vested with selective policy-making authority to provide certain local services and facilities on a county-wide basis.
The commissioners are elected for a four-year term, with the terms of the three commissioners running simultaneously. In the primary election, two Democratic and two Republican candidates are nominated for the three positions of the board. The three candidates who receive the highest number of votes in the following general election in November are named commissioners. They take office the first Monday of the following January.
Administrative powers and duties of county commissioners encompass registration and elections, assessment of persons and property, human services, veterans' affairs, appointment of county personnel, and fiscal management. As managers of fiscal affairs, county commissioners are responsible for the adoption of county budgets, assessment of property, levying taxes, and borrowing of funds for construction of capital projects.
In addition to complying with state requirements, the commissioners must also file a copy of the budget in detail on a form prescribed by the Department of Community Affairs, with the Chief Clerk, which shall be the basis for the accounting system. Thus the commissioners set the stage for the record keeping process.
A portion of the county administrative responsibilities is shared with other county officers and agencies. For example, the county commissioners as members of the salary board divide this responsibility with the treasurer and the appropriate row office (all the individual offices in the courthouse) heads for fixing salaries of county employees and for determining the number of employees to be hired. Courts and the elected officials of each county row office do the actual appointing of their own clerks, deputies, and assistants, subject to limitations imposed by the salary board. All titles to real estate in the county are administered by the commissioners, and to do this part of their job the board is responsible for the registration and assessment of real property, keeping accounts, and levying taxes.