For the first time in nearly two decades, someone other than Charlene Holzbaur will soon be running the state office that’s in charge of formulating the annual budget.
Holzbaur, a state employee for the last 36 years and a fixture at legislative hearings and budget briefings, is planning to step down as director of the Department of Treasury’s Office of Management and Budget on June 30 when the state closes out its fiscal year.
She’s been Treasury’s budget director for the last 16 years, serving under six different governors from both political parties, a rarity for the high-level position. Treasury records indicate Holzbaur is the state’s longest-serving budget director, going all the way back to 1865. And the last time a budget director served under multiple governors from different political parties was between 1941 and 1948, when state spending was just a small fraction of the current budget of nearly $33 billion.
“Charlene’s intelligence, conscientiousness, attention to detail and work ethic have been a key ingredient in solving some of the most difficult financial challenges the State has confronted during her tenure,” state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff wrote in a note distributed to Treasury employees.
“She will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues throughout State government,” Sidamon-Eristoff said.
Holzbaur, a Burlington Township resident and a native of Hamilton, has led the Office of Management and Budget since Nov. 15, 1999, after she was confirmed by the state Senate. Prior to her appointment, Holzbaur was the office’s assistant director of management and planning.
She started her career with the state as a Treasury auditor trainee in 1979 before rising to the position of supervisor, according to Treasury records. She has also worked for the Department of Human Services, serving as the director of financial and administrative services for the divisions of Medical Assistance and Family Development. She earned a B.S. degree in commerce and a master’s degree in business administration from Rider College.
Holzbaur’s departure comes after a recent string of difficult fiscal years, including the 2014 fiscal year, which saw the state struggle with a more than $1 billion budget shortfall in the final weeks left before the June 30 deadline.
But this fiscal year, state tax collections are on track to surpass revenue projections by roughly $200 million.
Under Holzbaur’s direction, the state budget has received annual awards from the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada. The organization has also awarded the state a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. And last May, Holzbaur was recognized with the 2014 distinguished leadership award from the Trenton chapter of the Association of Government Accountants.
Sidamon-Eristoff, who was appointed treasurer by Gov. Chris Christie in 2010, credited Holzbaur with improving the office’s work, which governors and other top officials have come to rely on.
“The New Jersey Budget has grown in size, scope and complexity, making the Budget Director’s position one of the toughest jobs in State government,” Sidamon-Eristoff said. “Her longevity is a reflection of her competence, professionalism, credibility, and impartiality, which have enhanced OMB’s role as an indispensable organization for financial expertise and leadership.”
Holzbaur could not be reached for comment yesterday — Treasury officials said she is hard at work closing out the fiscal year before the June 30 deadline.
Treasury officials have yet to name a new budget director.