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Polk Charter

Charter Review Commission Overview

The Polk County Charter was developed in 1997 by a Charter Commission appointed by the Polk County Commissioners and the Constitutional Officers (Sheriff, Clerk of Courts, Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser). The Charter Commission developed the Charter and submitted it to the voters for their reaction in the November 1998 general election. Voters approved it by a wide margin.

The Charter, as amended November 8, 2022, requires that by May 1 of every twelfth year after 2035 a Charter Review Commission again be appointed to review the Charter and to present to the Board of County Commissioners any recommended revisions.

The Charter document on this website has been formatted to be ADA-compliant. If you need a copy of the official document, please contact the County Attorney’s Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

There are 20 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 22+ million residents.

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.

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 residents. 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.

Efficiency Commission Reporting

Polk County’s Charter requires that every eight years, the Board appoints an Efficiency Commission to conduct a comprehensive study of government, including but not limited to the organization, structure, effectiveness and efficiency of any board, officer, authority, agency, division, department or other unit of government included within the budget approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

The study is to include an examination and analysis of the most effective and cost-efficient means of delivery of services in a responsible and effective manner.

The most recent Efficiency Commission submitted their findings and recommendations in a report to the county manager on February 15, 2023. By statute, the county manager has one year to respond to the Efficiency Commission Report with comments and an action plan for implementing accepted recommendations.