Frequently Asked Questions
What is a County Charter?
It is a written document defining the structure, powers, and functions of government within a county of Florida. It is analogous to a “constitution” for the county’s residents.
What is Charter Government?
It’s a means by which the electorate may change the structure and service delivery mechanisms of county government. It is made available to the voters of each county in Florida by the Florida Constitution.
Which counties in Florida currently have Charters?
There are 20 out of Florida’s 67 counties in which the electorate has adopted a charter form of government. These are: Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Orange, Osceola, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Volusia and Wakulla. Based on recent census data, these counties represent approximately 80% of the state’s 17+ million residents.
How do charter governments differ from non-charter governments?
It depends on the charter adopted by the electorate. The 1968 revisions to the Florida constitution and acts of the Florida Legislature have given many powers of “home-rule” (self-government) to non-charter as well as charter counties, making routine powers of charter and non-charter counties essentially identical. These home-rule powers for non-charter counties are limited to being those “as is provided by general or special law.”
Additional powers are given to a county if they are expressly provided for in its charter as adopted by its citizens. These must be consistent with state law, but may include such topics as the structure of the County Commission and offices such as the Clerk and Sheriff, the manner by which commissioners are elected, policy on delivery of county services, etc. All changes must be approved by a vote of the electorate of Polk County before they can be implemented.