Counties in Massachusetts

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Counties in the United States

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County-Related Pages
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There are 14 counties in Massachusetts. Governments for nine of those counties have been abolished and administrative responsibilities have been transitioned to the state, leaving 5 active county-level governments.[1]

Types of local government

Local government in Massachusetts consists of:

  • 53 city governments.
  • 298 town governments.
  • 5 county governments.
  • In addition, there are 412 special districts and 84 independent school districts.[2]

Further classification of cities and towns:

Cities and towns in Massachusetts may be:

  • Home rule charter, of which there are 90, as of 2008
  • Special act charter, of which there are approximately 60
  • General law, of which there are approximately 201.[3][4]

Initiative process availability

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in Massachusetts

The local units of government in Massachusetts that make the initiative process available are:

  • General law cities operating under government types A,B,C,D,E, and F as specified in Chapter 43 of Mass. General Laws have a state specified initiative and referendum process for ordinances. There are 25 such cities.
  • Home rule charter cities and towns have a state mandated initiative process for charter amendments. There are 90 such municipalities.
  • Charter counties have a state mandated initiative and referendum process. However, no county has yet become a charter county under the statutes mandating initiative and referendum. One county, Barnstable, has a charter that was a special act of the legislature and is not subject to the amendment process provided in state statutes. However, its charter provides a process for initiative and referendum for charter amendment.[4]

County website evaluations

See also: Evaluation of Massachusetts county websites

Counties without websites

As of February 2009, 10 of Massachusetts 's 14 counties had no website.


County County seat
Barnstable County, Massachusetts Barnstable, Massachusetts
Berkshire County, Massachusetts Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Bristol County, Massachusetts Taunton, Massachusetts
Dukes County, Massachusetts Edgartown, Massachusetts
Essex County, Massachusetts Salem, Massachusetts and Lawrence, Massachusetts
Franklin County, Massachusetts Greenfield, Massachusetts
Hampden County, Massachusetts Springfield, Massachusetts
Hampshire County, Massachusetts Northampton, Massachusetts
Middlesex County, Massachusetts Cambridge, Massachusetts and Lowell, Massachusetts
Nantucket County, Massachusetts Nantucket, Massachusetts
Norfolk County, Massachusetts Dedham, Massachusetts
Plymouth County, Massachusetts Plymouth, Massachusetts and Brockton, Massachusetts
Suffolk County, Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts
Worcester County, Massachusetts Worcester, Massachusetts


  1. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Website, "County Government," accessed September 11, 2013
  2. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named mma
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Types