Board of Commissioners
In Georgia, unlike states with many large cities, the county is still the center of political and cultural life for a majority of the state's residents. Randolph County is governed by a five-member commission elected to staggered terms and chaired by vote of the commissioners at the first meeting of each year.
Counties administer locally a variety of state programs and policies, including collecting taxes, overseeing elections, conducting courts of law, filing official records, maintaining roads, and providing for the welfare their residents.
Every county conducts local courts of law, voter registration, and elections; sells motor vehicle tags; files official records of property ownership; builds and repairs county roads; probates wills; and administers welfare and public assistance programs. The 1983 Constitution added supplementary powers to this list of county duties. Counties are allowed to provide:
- police and fire protection
- garbage and solid waste collection and disposal
- public health facilities and services, including hospitals, ambulances, emergency rescue, and animal control
- street and road construction, including curbs, sidewalks, and street lights
- parks, recreational areas, facilities, and programs
- storm-water and sewage collection and disposal systems
- water utilities
- public housing
- public transportation
- libraries, archives, and arts/sciences programs and facilities
- terminal and dock facilities and parking facilities
- codes, including building, housing, plumbing, and electrical codes
- air quality control
- planning and zoning
These supplementary powers address citizens' demands to improve and maintain the state's quality of life. Cities and towns have long offered these services, but they were seldom seen outside the urban environment. As Georgia's population has grown, so too has the number of residents who want citylike services. According to the U.S. census, approximately 67 percent of Georgians live outside a city, and many expect the same quality of life as their city-dwelling friends and relatives.
Beyond the powers assigned to the constitutional officers, the BOC is the county governing authority. It has the power to adopt ordinances, resolutions, or regulations relating to county property, county affairs, and the operation of local government. Larger, more urban counties distribute governmental responsibilities among many departments, whereas smaller, more rural counties often employ only a few officials, each of whom serves several functions. For example, Clayton County (with a 2010 population of 259,424) has a police chief, a fire chief, a warden, a sheriff, an emergency management agency director, and a public safety director to ensure the safety of its citizens. In Clay County (with a 2010 population of 3,183), on the other hand, the sheriff also acts as the emergency management agency director.