All but two states in America are divided into geographical units called counties (Alaska is divided into boroughs and Louisiana is divided into parishes). The county government has greater, direct involvement with the local citizens than state or federal agencies, especially with regard to property development. But until they interact with a county employee, many people may not be quite sure what functions county governments perform.
A county government is particularly important if you own vacant land and want to develop it one day. Here are just a few things the county can do for you:
- The county will “own” most of the roads and bridges surrounding your property. They are responsible for maintenance and upkeep on these county-owned roads, which makes it easier for you to travel to and from your property. Even if the county where your land is located does not maintain the roads themselves, county property taxes help fund transportation projects throughout the U.S.
- The county usually will be the government agency that determines the value of your property, and then assesses property taxes on your land and any improvements you have made. If you want to get that value changed, up or down, the county is the place to go.
- The county is vital to the community surrounding your land. Counties often provide support to hospitals, nursing homes, public health departments, humane societies and other services that help those who live within its borders.
- The county will also keep up parks, campgrounds, swimming pools and other community centers where people can get together to have a little fun. If you are looking to meet your new neighbors, a county-maintained recreational area might be just the place.
- The county is where you go to improve your land. You need to file permits with the county government before you dig a well, install a septic system, or begin construction on your dream home. The county also determines zoning requirements that let you know what types of things you are allowed to do with your land.
It is definitely worth your time to get to know the county government where your land is located. A friendly relationship with the county employees can go a long way toward improving your land and your relationship with the community.