Counties in Idaho
The territory that is now Idaho was originally part of the Washington Territory. The growth of population that resulted from the gold rushes of the 1860s produced the Idaho Territory in 1863. At that time, Idaho had just four counties. The Idaho Legislature, first territorial and later state, divided and subdivided the original four counties. In 1919, the state had its present lineup of 44 counties.
Types of local government
Local government in Idaho consists of:
- Cities: Article XII of the Idaho Constitution commands the state to pass laws concerning the incorporation of municipalities. Title 50 Ch. 1 of the Idaho State Statutes establishes the process and qualification for the incorporation of cities and towns. Any contiguous community with a population of 125 or more can file a petition for incorporation. State law does not establish the possibility of city charters. Bellevue City still has a charter that was granted to it by the Territorial Legislature.
- Counties: Title 31, Ch. 1 of the Idaho State Statutes establishes the number, name, boundaries of all counties. Title 31 as a whole dictates to a large degree the form of government of the counties in the state. In 1944, the Idaho Constitution was amended to allow for alternate forms of County government as delineated in Title 31 Ch. 50-57. Title 31 Ch. 58 establishes the charter form of government. As of now, no counties have applied this chapter to adopt a charter.
There are 44 counties and 200 cities in Idaho. All 44 counties are general law counties and 199 cities are general law cities. One city, Bellevue, has retained a charter granted to it by the Territorial Legislature before the Idaho Constitution was adopted.
- In addition, there are 799 special districts and 118 independent school districts.
Initiative process availability
The initiative and referendum process is mandated for all general law cities and counties and guidelines for the process are established by state law to a large degree of specificity. Idaho State Statutes Title 34 Ch. 18 lays out laws regarding Initiative and Referendum elections.
As of now, these statutes apply to all counties as all are general law counties.
Of the 200 cities, 199 of them are general law and thus fall under this mandate. Bellevue, the one charter city, has initiative and referendum in its charter and the rules and procedures are very similar to the state mandated rules and procedures.
County website evaluations
- See also: Evaluation of Idaho county websites
As of 2009:
- Five counties posted their budgets online.
- 21 included information on their websites about public government meetings.
- 25 included information about the county's elected officials.
- 26 included information about the county's administrative officials.
- 19 gave information about permits and zoning in the county.
- Four of the counties put information on their websites about audits that the county government has had performed.
- None of the county websites provided information about their contracts with county vendors.
- None of the county websites disclosed whether the counties belong to any government sector lobbying associations.
- Seven county websites gave information on how to request public records using the Idaho Public Records Act.
- 6 county websites provided some information about county taxes.
Counties without websites
As of January 2009, seven of Idaho's 44 counties had no website.
List of counties
Defunct Idaho counties
- Alturas County: A huge south-central Idaho county formed in 1864. Abolished in 1895.
- Lah-Toh County: North Idaho county formed in 1864. Abolished in 1867.
- Logan County: Formed by an 1889 partition of Alturas County. Abolished in 1895.
- Idaho counties
- Idaho Quick Facts from the U.S. Census Bureau
- Idaho Association of Counties
- E-Reference Desk on Idaho counties
- Idaho Association of Counties "Idaho Counties," accessed September 10, 2013
- Idaho State Statutes Title 50
- Idaho State Statutes Title 31
- The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- Idaho State Statutes Elections:Initiative and Referendum
- Initiative and Referendum Types and Numbers Research Spreadsheet
- Idaho Initiative and Referendum Research Document