The Forgotten Governments: County Commissioners as Policy Makers

By Vincent L. Marando; Robert D. Thomas | Go to book overview

6
Counties as Local Governments: Objectives and Growth

THE amount and type of services delivered by counties have been dramatically increasing. There are diverse issues that commissioners must deal with. Counties are providing more services, particularly in the urban, non-traditional, and social categories. Yet, in a broader sense, a discussion of service delivery does not adequately portray counties as local governments. Counties are undergoing change, and how they respond to public problems is determined by many factors, such as legal restrictions, demands of residents, and the desires of commissioners themselves.

If local governments attempt to reflect the needs and desires of their communities, what objectives do they seek? In this context, the question of what county commissioners want to accomplish is as important as what specific services they are in fact providing and what their legal and resource constraints are. How do commissioners want counties to develop as local governments? What broad objectives do they want counties to achieve?

We will examine here county commissioners' attitudes toward county development, specifically toward these: activities counties should engage in to meet future demands; strategies for dealing with the costs of county services that might be necessary in the future; what improvements are needed to make the county attractive to its citizens. We also examine in detail the perceptions of commissioners toward community growth in their counties. We will argue that the counties' objectives, particularly the critical question of the extent to which commissioners support growth, will have significant impact

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