Is Pasco County a Charter Government?
Charter Advisory Committee
The charter county study process came to a conclusion on August 24, 2015, when the Charter Advisory Committee (CAC) voted down the charter initiative. The Board of County Commissioners heard the presentation by the CAC chairman, Michael Cox, during their meeting on September 8, effectively finalizing this process.
To access past meeting minutes and videos please refer to the menu on the left-hand side of the page and click CAC Minutes & Video.
Overview and General Information
Prior to 1968 all county governments were extensions of state government and controlled by the legislature. The individual county elected officials had powers vested by, and were resident agents of, the state. The old system was a reflection of the fact that the majority of Floridians lived in small, rural and poor municipalities or unincorporated areas when statehood was granted in 1845.
Article VIII, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution contains provisions specifically related to the county form of government in Florida, requiring the state to be divided by law into political subdivisions called “counties.” Counties may be created, abolished, or changed by law, with provision for the payment or apportionment of public debt. A county government may be established by charter, which must be adopted, amended or repealed only upon a vote of the electors of the county in a special election called for that purpose. This is what we now refer to as Home Rule.
Pasco County's Charter Government Process
Q: 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 citizens.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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 Pasco County before they can be implemented.
Basic Differences between Charter and Non-Charter Government
|Structure of county government specified in state constitution and state statutes.||Structure of county government specified in charter.|
|Structure of county government can be changed only by amending the state constitution or statutes. All non-charter counties are treated equally regardless of complexity of problems.||Structure of county government can be changed after a local election approving the change. Form of government can be tailored to the particular needs of the county.|
|County shall have only those powers of self-government prescribed by the state legislature.||County shall have all powers of self-government unless they are inconsistent with the constitution and state laws.|
|State statutes do not provide for initiative or recall at the county level.||County charter can provide for ordinances by citizen initiative and must provide for recall for the county commission.|
|County cannot levy a utility tax.||Charter counties may impose a utility tax in the unincorporated area and can substitute that revenue source for property taxes.|
|In the event of a conflict, municipal ordinances prevail over county ordinances inside a city.|
Common Issues Reviewed during the Charter Study Process
- Legislative-Executive Branch
- County Constitutional Officers
- City-County Relations
- Powers reserved to the People
For additional information on Charter Counties:
If you need additional information regarding Pasco County's Charter Process, please contact:
Joanna Cheshire, Chief of Staff
Email Joanna Cheshire
(727) 847-8115 x7589