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You might wonder if you need to obtain a building permit to work on your own house. Well, a permit is not always needed, but when it is, it’s for your own good and for the good of the community. Getting a permit in Polk County means that building inspectors have reviewed your plans, making sure that they meet building codes and are safe.

You don’t need a permit for simple jobs, such as:

  • The replacement of screening;
  • Minor roof repairs;
  • Interior remodels or renovations; and
  • Minor electrical, plumbing or interior repairs.

While you can find more information about jobs you do need a permit for on the permitting page, here are some examples:

  • Construction or demolition of any building or structure, regardless of size;
  • Conversion of any non-habitable space to habitable space including the enclosure of garages, carports, porches or similar structures;
  • In-ground swimming pools and spas; and above-ground swimming pools and spas more than 24 inches deep; and
  • Decks, walkways, platforms, stairs and landings.

A building permit is like insurance for your project. By having the county’s professionals review your plans, or your contractor’s plans, you’re able to make sure that you’re not missing anything. Ultimately, this will help keep your project on track. And working without a permit on a project that requires one is a gamble. If you’re caught, you will need to undo the work you’ve done, and there may be a fine, as well.

The good news is that building inspectors understand you want to get things done as soon as possible, and they try to work with your planned schedule. You also can do a lot of inspection work virtually by visiting our inspections page.

Do I Need a Building Permit?


In 1914, Polk County’s roads were little more than the wagon trails used by soldiers during the Seminole Wars. They were made of dirt and clay. So, Polk County residents formed a “Good Roads Association” to sponsor a $1.5 million bond issue for roadway pavement.

With the passage of the bond, Polk County contracted for 217 miles of asphalt highways. This was the largest construction project of its kind in the south and it linked every major Polk city.

By the early 1920s, the county had 326 miles of paving, at a cost of $3 million.

With the advent of paved roads, however, came potholes. Polk County has been patching and filling holes or severe cracks in pavement with hot asphalt or cold patch ever since.

Fast forward to present-day Polk County, where the Roads & Drainage Division supervises the maintenance of nearly 2,700 miles of county roads.

Not all Polk County roads are maintained by the county. There are also city and state roadways within the county’s boundaries. Cities manage about 1,280 miles of roads, which is less than half Polk County’s inventory, while the Florida Department of Transportation manages around 461 miles of paved roads in Polk County.

To find out if your road is maintained by the county, call the Roads & Drainage Division at (863) 535-2200.

Let’s Talk Potholes … Are All of Polk’s Roads Serviced by the County?

can of paint

It’s important to dispose of household hazardous wastes the correct way. HHWs contain ingredients that are flammable, corrosive, combustible, toxic and/or reactive. HHWs include:

  • Used motor oil
  • Automobile batteries
  • Household rechargeable batteries
  • Gasoline
  • Paint, thinners and solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Pool chemicals
  • Cleaning supplies

HHWs from Polk County residents are accepted at no additional fee at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility located at the North Central Landfill. Auto and boat batteries, household batteries, fuel and gas cylinders, used oil and antifreeze filters, pesticides, mercury and fluorescent lights, flares, paint and used cooking oil are accepted.

But why do you have to pay extra attention to how disposing of HHWs? Well, they can be harmful to humans, wildlife and the environment. They can contaminate water supplies, and they should never be thrown in the trash, poured down the drain, storm sewers or on the ground. Never leave hazardous products within the reach of children or pets.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re transporting HHWs to the landfill:

  • Do not mix chemicals together;
  • If containers are in poor condition, pack securely in a sturdy box or bucket when transporting (do not pack in plastic bags); and
  • Place containers in a well ventilated trunk or truck bed.

Call (863) 284-4319 for more information.

How To Get Rid of Household Hazardous Wastes

man on computer for midterm elections

Americans turn out to vote in large numbers every four years, during presidential elections. The candidates are typically well known and voters are often affiliated with – and cast their vote for – their particular political party/candidate.

It’s a different story for midterm elections, though. These take place every two years and they can impact the nation just as much as the presidential election, but they do not elicit as much voting enthusiasm.

Midterm elections determine much of the leadership of our state and local government. During these off-year elections, Floridians choose their governor and members of the state cabinet, along with their representatives in the Florida legislature.

Polk’s representatives in the U.S. Congress are voted on during the midterms, as each member of the House of Representatives serves a two-year term. U.S. Senators, meanwhile, serve staggered six-year terms, so they are occasionally on the ballot in off years.

Decisions made by our local leaders have a tremendous impact on our day-to-day lives. During the midterm elections, voters also choose Polk County’s commissioners, who make decisions about property taxes, road improvements, emergency services and parks and recreation. A majority of the Polk County School Board seats are also up for election during the midterm election.

If you want to live in a community that reflects your values and provides the quality services that you think are important, midterm voting will help accomplish that.

To find out how to register to vote, to request a mail ballot, or to view a sample ballot visit



What Are Midterm Elections and Why Are They Important?


You may have noticed that roundabouts are starting to be constructed in Polk County. A roundabout is a circular intersection without traffic signal equipment. It allows traffic to flow around a center island.

A typical intersection makes you wait at a red light, even if there’s no traffic utilizing the green light. Not a roundabout, though. After yielding– vehicles inside the circular roadway always have the right-of-way – if there’s no other traffic, you can continue on your way.

So why do roundabouts cause some people angst?

Maybe the angst is because change can be hard, but roundabouts are here to stay. After all – and this is even more important than the time-saving factor – they reduce crashes. Significantly. Let’s look at why roundabouts are a good thing:

  • Roundabouts reduce the number of fatal and severe injury crashes at stop-and signal-controlled intersections by more than 75%;
  • Typically, conventional intersections have 32 vehicle and 16 pedestrian conflict points. Roundabouts meanwhile, have only eight vehicle and eight pedestrian conflict points. This means there are far fewer opportunities for a collision; and
  • There are no crossing movements in a roundabout, so severe left-turn and right-angle crashes are eliminated.

Roundabouts are typically designed with pedestrians in mind. Crosswalks are often used to guide them to the proper crossing. Cyclists that use the roundabout are expected to ride with traffic or use the sidewalk and crosswalk like pedestrians.

Why do We Have Roundabouts In our county?

man fishing on a lake

Thanks to sunshine, great weather and more than 500 accessible freshwater lakes, Polk County is widely known as the bass fishing capital of the United States. Before you start casting lines, there are a few things you should know:

  • You’ll need a license to keep what you catch. If you aren’t planning to release what you catch, you will need to obtain a Recreational Freshwater Fishing License. Permits can be acquired at or by calling (888) 347-4356. A Florida Freshwater License costs about $17 for a year. Lifetime license options are available. Interested in just getting out for a day? Florida has statewide fishing holidays.
  • Be conscious of when and where you fish. Different lakes have different rules, and some are not open for public fishing. Make sure you research where you intend to fish. Learn the rules and regulations regarding boat size, ramp and pier use and hours, and size and bag limits for registered fishers. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Fishbrain app has great information.
  • Fish early, fish late. The early bird may catch the worm, but evening fishing can be great, too. Many freshwater fish are active biting in the morning or at dusk. If you’re fishing in the daytime, look for cloud/shade coverage. Fish are typically less active in heat and sunlight. Also, start the day by matching your lure to the color and tone of the water. If there is heavy algae and green-tinted water, try a lure with green highlights. Clear water will do well with a pearlescent lure.
  • Plan for heat and sun. Consider temperatures, shade and sunlight. Make sure you have water, hats and sunglasses, and a first-aid kit. Practice awareness and be use proper technique when baiting and casting lines. Sunscreen is a no-brainer. Fishing means exposure to sun, even in the evening and morning. Here’s information on Polk County boat ramps and fishing spots: Parks and Recreation




Know The Rules If You’re Planning a Polk County Fishing Trip

two older men fishing
  • Wear sunscreen. Remember that fishing, even in the morning and late evening, means exposure to the sun. Consider temperatures, shade and sunlight. Sunscreen is as important to angling as it is to swimming, going to the beach or any outdoor sport. Hats, sunglasses and appropriate attire can be as important to having a good fishing trip as rods and tackle boxes.
  • Know the regulations. Different lakes have different rules. Research your fishing spot so that you know the rules and regulations with regard to boat size, ramp and pier use and hours, and size and bag limits for registered fishers. Not all lakes and reservoirs are open for public fishing. The Florida Fish and Wildlife app Fishbrain is popular for fishing information. Polk County Parks & Recreation has a list of available piers and fishing ramps here.
  • Follow water safety standards. When operating a boat on Polk County lakes, ensure that all passengers have appropriately-sized life jackets or personal floatation devices. Also make sure waterway rules, regulations and signage are followed. When fishing, have a first-aid kit within reach, and use proper techniques when stringing, casting and baiting lines. Ensure that your operator is licensed and that your vehicle has a current registration and title.
  • Be smart. Consuming alcohol or other substances when boating is never a good idea.
  • Consider weather and time of day. Check the weather forecast before getting out on a lake. The last thing you want is for your fun outing to be impacted by storms or bad weather. With regard to fishing, we recommend early mornings and late afternoons. However, be mindful of visibility, rain and other elements during these hours, too.
  • Respect the habitat. Nobody likes a litterbug. If you generate trash, make sure it ends up in an appropriate receptacle. Florida has a diverse ecology and habitat, and it’s our shared responsibility to keep it clean and hospitable.

Fishing in Polk County? Remember these Tips!

hurricane from satellite

When you think about cleaning up your yard, with regard to a hurricane, you most likely think about the work that needs to be done after the rain and wind has left town. Cleaning up your yard before a hurricane hits is one of the most important things you can do to keep your property safe during a storm.

The more work you do outside of your home before a hurricane, the less likely your property is to be damaged, and the less work you’ll have to do afterwards.

Here are a few things you can do to get ready for a hurricane or hurricane season:

  • Prune your trees and bushes. Removing dead branches and fruit keeps them from becoming projectiles when the wind arrives. Doing this step in advance will give Polk County’s yard waste haulers time to pick up the debris. But do not do this work when storms are forecast. Waste and Recycling may not be able to get it off the ground.
  • Clean your gutters. If your gutters are not clear of debris, rain won’t be able to get through. This can lead to a leaky roof.
  • Make room in your home or in a storage space for all your outdoor items, such as lawn chairs, trampolines, etc.
  • Make sure that things that cannot be brought inside, i.e., sheds are anchored to the ground.

Doing this work ahead of time does more than just remove possible wind born objects from your yard. It also gives you more time to focus on other last-minute preparations.

Before and After Hurricane Cleanup … Yes, BEFORE!

Woman with sparkler

By state law, you can only legally shoot fireworks on Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Florida. This bright and loud tradition can be a fun family event to help you celebrate the occasions; however, people are injured each year in fireworks-related incidents.

So, are fireworks really safe?

Fireworks certainly can be safe when they are handled by professionals – people with proper training and knowledge. It’s a different story for the general public. Fireworks are explosives and, without the proper training, they can have unintentional consequences. These consequences range from minor injuries to fires and death.

Each year, fireworks are responsible for thousands of injuries and more than 19,500 fires. Burns make up a majority of the injuries, mostly effecting extremities such as the hands. About a third of the injuries happen to children under 15. Kids 10 to 14-years old are at the highest risk, and sparklers account for 25 percent of firework-related injuries, as they burn at 1,200° F.

So, if you are looking to enjoy some fireworks, head to a local show that is being coordinated by a professional crew. If that’s not an option, try some of these fun fireworks alternatives: glowsticks, noisemakers or silly string. Leave the fireworks to the professionals!

Are Fireworks Really Safe?

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