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Macphail v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of Hudson County

January 4, 1950

WILLIAM MACPHAIL AND WILLIAM BRADFORD, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS OF HUDSON COUNTY AND FRANK J. FARLEY, COUNTY TREASURER, DEFENDANTS



Brennan, Wm. J., Jr., J.s.c.

Brennan

When Hudson County in December, 1948, granted a cost of living bonus to county paid lower salaried employees, the 174 such salaried employees of the Commissioner of Registration and Superintendent of Elections were not included. Plaintiff MacPhail, the commissioner and superintendent, and plaintiff Bradford, one of the employees, bring this suit to compel such payment.

The case is at issue and both sides have moved for judgment. Plaintiffs' motion is for judgment on the pleadings and defendants' motion is for summary judgment.

The bonus paid was in the amount of $300 to each eligible full time employee. The County urges two reasons why MacPhail's employees are not paid the same bonus: (1) that the bonus act, Chapter 18 of the Laws of 1948 amending Chapter 404 of the Laws of 1941, does not cover MacPhail's employees, and (2) that in any event a bonus payment would violate R.S. 19:31-2 and R.S. 19:32-2 because it would cause the expenses of the offices of commissioner and superintendent to exceed the limitations of $260,000 and $320,000 prescribed by those statutes as the maximum to be spent in any year for "all expenses of every nature" in such respective offices.

Neither argument is soundly founded. The MacPhail employees may be granted the benefits of the bonus law and a

bonus payment thereunder is not an expense chargeable to the limitations set up in R.S. 19:31-2 and R.S. 19:32-2.

The office of superintendent of elections in first class counties was originally created by Chapter 9 of the Laws of 1923 and took its present form under Chapter 187 of the Laws of 1930. The latter statute also constituted the clerk of the County Board of Elections as the commissioner of registration. Both officials were given broad powers in respect of the appointment and separation of their personnel who by explicit direction were not to be "subject to any of the provisions of Title 11, Civil Service, but shall be in the unclassified service." The commissioner appoints his employees "temporarily" and in such number as in his judgment may be necessary. The superintendent likewise appoints such number of assistants as "he considers necessary."

Chapter 165 of the Laws of 1940 terminated the terms of office of the clerks of the county boards of first class counties as commissioners of registration and constituted the superintendents of election thereof as such commissioners. That statute also established ceiling limitations in respect of annual expenditures in the two offices. The statute reads in these particulars as follows:

"19:31-2. The commissioner of registration in counties of the first class, and the county board in all other counties, shall have power to appoint temporarily such number of persons as in his or its judgment may be necessary in order to carry out the provisions of this Title. Such persons when temporarily appointed shall not be subject to any of the provisions of Title 11, Civil Service, but shall be in the unclassified service.

"The commissioner of registration in counties of the first class, and the county board in all other counties, shall provide such printed forms, blanks, supplies and office telephone and transportation equipment and shall prescribe such reasonable rules and regulations as are necessary in the opinion of the commissioner or county board to carry out the provisions of this Title and any amendments or supplements thereto.

"All necessary expenses incurred, as and when certified and approved by the commissioner of registration in counties of the first class, and by the county board in all other counties, shall be paid by the county treasurer of the county, provided, however , that all expenses of every nature in the office of the commissioner of registration ...


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