Counties in Georgia
Georgia is divided into 159 counties. Under the Georgia Constitution, counties are granted home rule to deal with issues that are local in nature. Four consolidated city-counties exist—Athens (Clarke County), Augusta (Richmond County), Columbus (Muscogee County) and Cusseta (Chattahoochee County).
Types of local government
Local government in Georgia consists of:
Cities: There are 535 cities in Georgia, and all cities have charters. Although some cities are known by other terms (such as "town"), Georgia law makes no such distinction.
Counties: There are 159 counties in Georgia. Six of these county governments have been consolidated with city governments. Another (Echols County) consolidated with an unincorporated community rather than a city. Each of these consolidated governments has its own charter. For more information on city-county consolidation in Georgia, see the video located here.
In addition, there are 497 special districts and 180 independent school districts.
Initiative Process Availability
In Georgia, local governments comprise counties, cities, and city-county consolidations. Counties are organized according to the state constitution, general law, and applicable local laws (laws passed by the general assembly concerning a specific county). Cities and city-county consolidations are governed by local charters approved by the General Assembly then ratified by a vote of the people.
Georgia has 159 counties (152, excluding city-county consolidations). Residents of all 152 counties may initiate amendments to (or veto referendums against) local ordinances, resolutions, and regulations. They may also amend or repeal the local laws governing the county at the state level.
Georgia has 535 cities total and 528 excluding city-county consolidations). Residents of all 528 non-consolidated cities may initiate amendments to (or veto referendums against) local ordinances, resolutions, and regulations. They may also amend their local charter.
In Georgia, cities and counties may consolidate their governments to streamline services or eliminate redundancies. Seven pairs of cities and counties have formed consolidated city-county governments. All seven pairs are organized under local charters approved by the General Assembly and ratified by residents. The Georgia Code explicitly exempts consolidated governments formed prior to January 1, 1976 from the initiative process established for cities. The City of Columbus and Muscogee County were consolidated in 1971--the first Georgia consolidation and the only consolidation prior to 1976. The charter of Columbus/Muscogee County does provide for charter amendment and ordinance initiatives, but establishes an initiative process distinct from the city process found in the Georgia Code.
The applicability of state's county and city initiative and referendum provisions to consolidated governments in general is unclear. By all appearances, the issue has not yet faced judicial review. Augusta-Richmond County and Columbus-Muscogee County provide for local initiative for ordinances and charter or local act amendment. Athens-Clarke County, Cusseta-Chattahoochee County, and Georgetown-Quitman County seem to exclude it. The status of initiative in unclear in both Statenville-Echols County and Preston-Webster County.
County website evaluations
- See also: Evaluation of Georgia county websites
As of 2009:
- 30 of the 159 counties post their budgets online.
- 63 counties include information on their websites about public government meetings.
- 69 include information about the county's elected officials.
- 66 include information about the county's administrative officials.
- 61 counties provide information about permits and zoning in the county.
- 14 of the counties provide information on their websites about audits that the county government has had performed.
- 6 of the 159 counties give information about their contracts with county vendors.
- 1 county discloses whether it belongs to any government sector lobbying associations.
- Just 6 counties provide information on how to request public records using the Georgia Open Records Act.
- 86 county websites provide some information about county taxes.
List of counties
- Galileo: An Initiative of the University System of Georgia, "A Brief History of Georgia Counties," accessed September 9, 2013
- New Georgia Encyclopedia, "Georgia's City Governments," August 9, 2002
- New Georgia Encyclopedia, "Georgia's County Governments," December 20, 2011 (updated)
- NACO, "City County Consolidation Proposals," January 1, 2011
- The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- Ballotpedia Research Document, "Types and Numbers of local government by state," September 1, 2012 (created)
- Carl Vinson Institute of Government, "What you need to know about city-county consolidation," accessed October 13, 2012
- National Association of Counties, "City-County Consolidation Proposals 1921 - Present," January 1, 2011
- Municode, Columbus Charter and Ordinances, accessed October 13, 2012
- Augusta-Richmond County, Charter and Code, accessed October 13, 2012
- Municode, Athens-Clarke County Charter and Ordinances, "Amending Charter," accessed October 13, 2012
- Municode, Cusseta-Chattahoochee County Charter and Ordinances, accessed October 13, 2012
- Georgetown-Quitman County, City-County Charter, accessed October 13, 2012
This article was taken and modified from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia under the GNU license.
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