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Counties Matter: Stronger Counties. Stronger America.

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County History & Diversity

Counties are one of America’s oldest forms of government, dating back to 1634 when the first county governments (shires) were established in Virginia. The organization and structure of today’s 3,069 county governments are chartered under state constitutions or laws and are tailored to fit the needs and characteristics of states and local areas.

No two counties are exactly the same. Counties are diverse in structure and how we deliver services to our communities. In general, states decide the roles and responsibilities of county governments. Counties are governed by locally elected officials and, in some instances, operate under home rule authority, which allows for more local flexibility and control with structural, functional and fiscal powers. Though organizational structures vary, all county, parish and borough governments are on the front lines of delivering vital services to residents

Transportation & Infrastructure

Services Include

ROADS & BRIDGES

AIRPORTS

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

CONSTRUCTION OF PUBLIC FACILITIES

UTILITIES LIKE GAS & ELECTRICITY

SOLID WASTE RECYCLING & MANAGEMENT

WATER & SEWAGE

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Roads

COUNTIES OWN AND MAINTAIN 46% OF AMERICA’S ROAD MILES

Bridges

COUNTIES OWN 38% OF BRIDGES

Transportation Systems

COUNTIES ARE INVOLVED IN 78% OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS

Transportation and infrastructure are core public sector responsibilities that impact everything from our daily commutes to shipping goods around the globe. From building and maintaining roads and bridges to providing efficient transit options, counties are a driving force connecting communities and strengthening our economy. Counties play a major role in other essential community infrastructure like schools, hospitals, jails, courthouses, parks and water purification and sewage systems.

Airports

COUNTIES ARE INVOLVED IN THE OPERATION OF 34% OF PUBLIC AIRPORTS

Counties Invest Annually

Almost $60 BILLION in construction of public facilities

Almost $22 BILLION in sewage and solid waste management

More than $122 BILLION total in building infrastructure and maintaining and operating public works

Community Health

Services Include

HOSPITALS & HEALTH CLINICS

PUBLIC HEALTH

BEHAVIORAL & MENTAL HEALTH

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT

IMMUNIZATIONS & PREVENTION

INDIGENT HEALTHCARE

HEALTH CODE INSPECTIONS

NURSING HOMES

Counties invest heavily in local residents’ health and well-being, often serving as a safety net for low-income and indigent residents. County health departments protect our residents and communities by offering a wide range of services like administering flu shots, providing health information and preventing and responding to public health emergencies.

From hospitals and emergency rooms to clinical care facilities, many counties operate the systems that keep us healthy from the time we are born to the time we grow old. Counties also often have significant responsibilities for behavioral and mental health services and care.

Counties are involved in promoting public health through 1,943 local health departments

Counties support over 900 hospitals
...with more than 58,000 beds

IN A MAJORITY OF STATES (26), counties are required to provide healthcare for low-income, uninsured or underinsured residents

Local governments, mostly counties, contribute $28 BILLION to the non-federal share of Medicaid

Counties Invest Annually

Almost $83 BILLION in community health and hospitals

More than $58 BILLION in human services

Justice & Public Safety

Services Include

SHERIFFS DEPARTMENTS

COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENTS

COUNTY COURTS

JAILS & CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES

JUVENILE DETENTION & JUSTICE SERVICES

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL

PAID & VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS

DISTRICT ATTORNEYS

PUBLIC DEFENDERS

CORONERS

Counties play a major role in two distinct areas of justice and public safety: emergency response and preparedness and the criminal justice system. Counties keep communities safe by providing law enforcement and preventing crime. From patrolling the streets, to operating and maintaining county detention facilities, to serving as the arm of the county courts, county sheriffs and other law enforcement departments are on the front lines of public safety and the criminal justice system. Other key county players are judges, district attorneys, public defenders, court clerks, jail directors, 911 operators and coroners.

County Operated Jails

COUNTIES OPERATE 91% OF ALL LOCAL JAILS

10.6 MILLION people were admitted to county and other local jails in 2016

Counties Invest Annually

Over $35 BILLION in 3,041 police and sheriffs' departments

Almost $26 BILLION on correctional facilities

Almost $11 BILLION in fire protection activities

Almost $93 BILLION total in justice and public safety services, including 911 call centers

Almost $19 BILLION on county courts and legal services

Human Services


 

SERVICES INCLUDE

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

VIOLENCE PREVENTION

FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICES

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT

WORKFORCE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

VETERAN SERVICES

SENIOR SERVICES AND ELDER CARE

BEHAVIORAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH SERVICES

MEDICAL COVERAGE

PARENT EDUCATION AND SUPPORT

CHILD WELFARE, FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION

HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING SUPPORT SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

Federal Funding

75% OF FEDERAL FUNDING USED BY COUNTIES IN FY 2014–2016 WAS FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

 

Counties play a critical role in building vibrant communities for all individuals, including veterans, children and families. We make significant investments in human services to help residents live well and thrive, achieving their fullest potential and creating pathways to economic opportunity and self-sufficiency.

There are over 257,000 county human services employees across the country delivering vital services to our nation’s most vulnerable populations

Counties Invest Annually

Over $58 BILLION in federal, state and local funds in human services while serving as the frontline safety net

Counties in at least 35 STATES have county veterans service officers (CVSOs)

$173 BILLION in U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs expenditures was within county jurisdictions

County Veteran Service Officers secured
$80.4 BILLION in compensation benefits and
$67 BILLION in health benefits for veterans in FY 2017

Veteran Expenditures

39% OF VETERAN EXPENDITURES WENT TO VETERAN MEDICAL CARE

Veteran Population

37% OF COUNTIES HAVE VETERANS REPRESENTING MORE THAN 10% OF THE ADULT POPULATION

Veteran Compensation & Pensions

47% OF VETERAN EXPENDITURES WENT TO VETERAN COMPENSATION AND PENSIONS

County Management

SERVICES INCLUDE

RECORD KEEPING

TAX ASSESSMENTS & COLLECTION

911 CALL CENTERS

ELECTIONS AND POLLING PLACES

RECREATION AND PARKS

ARTS PROGRAMS

HOUSING

COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Counties provide vital services to all Americans, from issuing birth certificates and marriage licenses to operating 911 call centers. Counties often build and maintain parks, community centers, libraries and cultural centers. Counties are responsible for managing elections, from presidential to local. While balancing numerous administrative responsibilities, counties deliver essential services to ensure healthy, safe and vibrant communities across the United States.

Polling Places

Every two years counties fund and oversee more than 100,000 polling places

...and coordinate more than 700,000 poll workers

Counties Invest Annually

Almost $10 BILLION to build and maintain parks and recreational facilities

Close to $11 BILLION in housing and community developement

 
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