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A Borough (sometimes abbreviated Boro on road signs) in the context of New Jerseymarker local government refers to one of five types and one of eleven forms of municipal government.

Though it is now the most common form of government in New Jersey, as of 1875, only 17 boroughs had been created, all by special acts of the legislature.

The Borough Act of 1878 allowed any township (or portion thereof) with a land area of no more than four square miles and a population not exceeding 5,000, to establish itself as an independent borough through a petition and referendum process on a self-executing basis. As enacted, a borough would be governed by an elected mayor (serving a one-year term) and a six-member council (elected to staggered three-year terms). The mayor would preside at council meetings, but had no vote except to break ties. A wave of boroughs were incorporated by newly-minted municipalities to allow for home-ruled school districts.

The Borough Act of 1897 amended the original Act, eliminating the self-executing incorporation feature of the earlier legislation. Henceforth, newly incorporated boroughs (or those seeking to dissolve or increase or decrease in size) required approval of the legislature. The elected mayor and six-member council were retained, with the mayor now serving a two-year term.

The Borough Act of 1987 was created to streamline borough law and clear away amendments, changes and contradictory rules that had accumulated over the century of the Borough's existence as a form of government. The 1987 Act allowed for the delegation of executive responsibility to an appointed administrator.

Traditionally, voters elect a mayor and six council-members at-large in a partisan election. The borough system has a weak mayor and the council performs most legislative and executive functions. This form of local government is used by 39% of the municipalities in New Jersey.


Boroughitis was a craze that swept through New Jersey in the late 19th century, which led groups of residents to unite to form Boroughs from within and among the many Township that were the prevalent form at the time. This wave of municipal formations was fomented by legislation that allowed a Borough to be created by a referendum with no further legislative approval required. In 1875 only 17 boroughs existed, but with Boroughitis the prevalence of Boroughs exploded, so that they are now the most common type of municipal government in New Jersey, accounting for over 200 of the 566 municipal governments statewide.

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