TRENTON - The Senate yesterday confirmed Matthew Boxer's nomination as state comptroller, giving New Jersey its first government watchdog to try to help control the nation's highest property taxes.

Boxer, of Bridgewater, is a former assistant U.S. attorney who was working in Gov. Corzine's office overseeing state authorities.

The comptroller position was created earlier this year to ferret out wasteful government spending as the state looks for ways to control property taxes that are twice the national average, at $6,330 per homeowner. He is to serve a six-year term.

"The state of New Jersey has gained the services for the next six years of an experienced and dedicated public servant who will work tirelessly as a watchdog on behalf of New Jersey taxpayers," said Gov. Corzine, who nominated Boxer.

While appointed by the governor, the post is supposed to be an independent office. Anyone serving as comptroller will be limited to two terms and be barred from running for elected office for two years after leaving the job.

Some legislators opposed the bill that created the post after it was amended to remove the comptroller's authority to review all land deals. But Corzine called the job a "critical position in our ongoing efforts to structure a sustainable solution to the state's troubled finances."

Legislative staff estimated it will cost up to $9 million to create the new office.

Fourteen states have elected comptrollers and 31 have appointed ones, according to the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers.