Counties are territorial and political subdivisions of the State of Missouri created by statute to aid in the administration of government. They are charged with performing various state governmental functions and delivering public services at a local level. This places the responsibility of such duties at the local level, subject to statutes and the Constitution of Missouri.
Jackson County is one of 114 counties in Missouri. It includes most of Kansas City, Missouri, and 17 other cities and towns. The County population is about 654,000 people living within 607 square miles.
The Origin of Counties
Counties trace their roots to the English shire of a thousand years ago. Serving a dual function, the shire acted as the administrative arm of the national government as well as the citizen's local government. The structural form of the shire was adopted along the eastern seaboard of North America by the colonists and adapted to suit the diverse economic and geographic needs of each of the colonies.
When our national government was formed, the framers of the Constitution did not provide for local governments. Instead, they left that matter to the states. Subsequently, early state constitutions generally conceptualized county government as an arm of the state.
After World War I, population growth, suburban development and a government reform movement strengthened the role of local governments. Those developments set the stage for post-World War II urbanization. Changes in structure, greater autonomy from the states, rising revenues and stronger political accountability ushered in a new era for county governments across the nation. Counties began providing an ever widening range of services. That trend continues today.