Why Counties Matter: A History, Analysis and Comprehensive Guide



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.

Provide Services for over 21 million Floridians
Recycle nearly 18.9 million tons of trash annually
Run 82 library systems with 559 service outlets and more than 67 million annual visits
Maintain 70,372.1 miles of public roads
Put 21,000 Sheriff's Deputies on Florida's streets
Counted over 8.4 million ballots during the 2018 election
Invest nearly $16 million annually in economic and workforce development for veterans

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. 

Counties Solve Problems
Community vs Country Satisfaction
Trust in Washington at All-Time Low
Trust in Local Gov. at All-Time High
377 county elected officials on the frontlines, 5 county supported hospitals and 67 county health departments