EVERYBODAY LIVES IN A COUNTY.
Counties represent the oldest form of local government – first established in 1617 in Jamestown, Virginia – and serve the individual needs of regions within a state. The origin of Florida’s counties begin when it was just a territory, divided between two counties: Escambia and St. Johns. Since then, in accordance with the broadening population of the state, Florida has gained various more counties before stabilizing at 67 in 1925.
Today, Florida’s county governments are tailored to accommodate the exclusive characteristics of each local community. No two counties are identical; thus, they can not be fully governed by a state-wide hand alone. Florida counties – from the largest, Miami-Dade; to the smallest, Lafayette – have exclusive styles for delivering services under locally-elected officials. Under home rule authority, counties are able to maximize local flexibility and structural, functional, and fiscal considerations. Thus, despite organizational differences, Florida’s counties come together for one purpose: delivering vital services to its residents.
Counties give local communities the room to solve local problems with local solutions, all while saving individual regions from taking a trip to Tallahassee each time they need to conduct government business. Counties play a major role in day-to-day operations, and their services spread across multiple fields. Some of these services include funding public health and human services, maintaining the justice system, emergency management, maintaining parks and infrastructure, and much more.