A proposal.

Credit: http://lwvma.org/govcounty.shtml Massachusetts Government: County Government Massachusetts has 14 counties which were regional administative districts before the Revolutionary War. Over time the counties administered jails, health facilities, agricultural schools, registeries of deeds and probate, county courthouses, county roads and extension services. The counties were funded by local communities and the Commonwealth. For many years, there was criticism of county government as wasteful and inefficient. There were recommendations to abolish all county governments and transfer most of their functions to state agencies and their assets (land and buildings) to the Commonwealth. In 1997, Middlesex county government was abolished followed by the abolition of Berkshire, Essex, Hampden and Worcester county governments. Their functions were turned over to state agencies. Sheriffs in these counties still administer jails but their employees are state employees. The legislation to abolish these county governments transferred Registeries of Deeds to the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Registers of Deeds and probate, sheriffs and district attornies, even where county government has been abolished, are still elected in county political districts. In counties which have not been abolished or restructured, county commissioners and treasurers are still elected. It is important to understand that counties as geographical/political regions are not abolished or restructured; it is the government which is abolished/restrucutred. Home rule legislation allows officials or voters in a county to establish a regional charter commission to study its government. The commission can submit one of three model charters for approval of voters in that county at a statewide election or it can submit a special charter which must first be approved by the state legislature. Cities and towns may choose a Regional Council of Government charter which will be binding on those communities where a majority of voters in a city or town approve it. The regional council of governments can provide a variety of services to cities and towns, such as planning, public safety, engineering, water and waste disposal, and many other services. The participating communities pay assessments based on local property evaluation. The legislature approved special charters to allow Franklin and Hampshire counties to become regional councils of government. Barnstable county has submitted a special charter for a regional council of government to the legislature which to date has not approved it. Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk county governments remain substantially unchanged

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