In 2002, Florida had 66 counties, 404 municipalities, and 95 public school districts.
Generally, legislative authority within each county is vested in a five-member elected board of county commissioners, which also has administrative authority over county departments, except those headed by independently elected officials. In counties without charters, these elected officials usually include a sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, and clerk of the circuit court. County charters may provide for a greater or lesser number of elected officials, and for a professional county administrator (city manager). Before 1968 there was state legislation that restricted county government operations; most of these laws have now been repealed. Counties may generally enact any law not inconsistent with state law. However, the taxing power of county and other local governments is severely limited.
Municipalities are normally incorporated and chartered by an act of the state legislature. Except where a county charter specifies otherwise, municipal ordinances override county laws. Municipal governments may provide a full range of local services. But as populations rapidly expand beyond municipal boundaries, many of these governments have found they lack the jurisdiction to deal adequately with area problems. Annexations of surrounding territory are permissible but difficult under state law. Some municipal governments have reached agreements with
Florida Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 1948–2000
|YEAR||ELECTORAL VOTE||FLORIDA WINNER||DEMOCRAT||REPUBLICAN||STATES' RIGHTS DEMOCRAT||PROGRESSIVE|
|*Won US presidential election. **Reform candidate Pat Buchanan received 17,484 votes.|
|2000**||25||*Bush, G. W. (R)||2,912,253||2,912,790||97,488||16,415|
county or other local governments for consolidation of overlapping or redundant services or for provision of service by one local government to another on a contract basis. Complete consolidation of a municipal and a county government is authorized by the state constitution, requiring state legislation and voter approval in the area affected. Jacksonville and Duval County succeeded in consolidating by 1985.
The problem of overlapping and uncoordinated service is most serious in the case of the state's 626 special districts (as of 2002). These districts, established by state law and approval of the affected voters, provide a specified service in a defined geographic area. An urban area may have dozens of special districts. State legislation in the 1970s attempted to deal with this problem by permitting counties to set up their own special-purpose districts, whose operations could be coordinated by the county government.
Regional planning councils resulted from the need to cope with problems of greater than local concern. These councils deal with such issues as land management, resource management, and economic development.