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Counties in Florida
Florida has 67 counties. In 1968, Florida voters adopted a constitutional amendment that grants local voters the power to adopt charters to govern their counties. Charters are formal written documents that confer powers, duties or privileges on the county. They resemble state or federal constitutions and they must be approved by the county's voters.
As of January 2009, 20 counties in Florida had adopted charter status. Taken together, these counties include more than 75% of Florida's residents.
Types of local government
Local government in Florida consists of:
- 67 county governments (this includes Jacksonville, a consolidated city-county, which is listed by the U.S. Census Bureau as a city government).
- 410 city governments.
- In addition, there are 983 special districts and 95 independent school districts.
All 410 cities in Florida are classified as charter cities.
Initiative process availability
The local units of government in Florida that make the initiative process available are:
- Charter cities, all 410 of which have a state mandated initiative and referendum process for charter amendments.
- Charter counties, which have the authority for the creation of an initiative and referendum process for charter amendment. All 20 have exercised this power and have some form of initiative and referendum in their charters.
County website evaluations
- See also: Evaluation of Florida county websites
As of 2012:
- 47 of the 67 counties posted their budgets online.
- 60 counties include information on their websites about public government meetings.
- 57 include information about the county's elected officials.
- 46 include information about the county's administrative officials.
- 52 counties give information about permits and zoning in the county.
- 31 of the counties put information on their websites about audits that the county government has had performed.
- 22 of the 67 counties give information about their contracts with county vendors.
- 3 Counties (Duval, Palm Beach, Pinellas) disclose whether or not they belong to a government sector lobbying associations.
- 8 counties (Calhoun, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Highlands, Orange, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam) provide information on how to request public records using the Florida Sunshine Law.
- 54 county websites provide some information about county taxes.
Attorney General calls for transparency improvement
Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a call on December 30, 2008 for all "sheriffs, county commissions and school boards" to "...immediately place on their websites the email address and phone number for their public records points of contact. Additionally, the Attorney General asked the government leaders to have their contracts and current budgets posted online in time for Sunshine Week, which starts on March 15."
How Florida counties are governed depends to a significant extent on whether the county is a charter county. The basic differences between a charter county and a non-charter county are:
- For a non-charter county, the structure of county government is defined in the Florida Constitution and state statutes. The only way the governance structure of a non-charter county can be changed is by amending the state constitution or state laws. Charter counties, on the other hand, have a governance structure defined in their charters that can be amended by county voters as they determine the need for change.
- Any powers of self-governance in non-charter counties are those prescribed by the state constitution. In charter counties, self-governance is the norm, as long as any self-government decisions are consistent with Florida's constitution and laws.
- Non-charter counties do not have the powers of initiative or referendum or recall. Charter counties do have these powers, if they are written into their respective charters. Fifteen counties do allow citizens to initiate amendments through the process of collecting signatures on petitions; five do not. The five that do not are Duval, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and Volusia.
- Non-charter counties do not require an administrative code. The charter of a charter county can require such a code.
- Non-charter counties can't levy taxes in the county's unincorporated areas. Charter counties can levy "municipal utility taxes" in unincorporated areas.
List of counties
- Ballot measure information on Florida county websites
- Florida Association of Counties
- Florida counties lobbying, 2009
- Florida government sector lobbying
- The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- Ballotpedia: Types and #'s of local government by state
- MyFloridaLegal.com, "McCollum Calls on Local Governments, Law Enforcement and School Districts to Make Enhanced Sunshine New Year’s Resolution," December 30, 2008
- FL-counties.com, "Basic differences between charter and non-charter counties" (dead link)
- FL-counties.com, "Comparison of the charter counties as it relates to recall, initiative and referendum" (dead link)
- FL-counties.com, "Administrative structure of Florida's charter counties" (dead link)
This article was taken and modified from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia under the GNU license.