South Carolina's counties are a vital part of our governmental system. Created early in the history of our state, they have changed over the years. The most important recent change involved the granting of home rule to all counties in 1975. Now, counties are truly local governments which can provide an array of services to our citizenry.

Issues remain, however, which pose challenges to county officials and our state. Counties still operate with governmental structures that were created in an earlier era. Some observers wonder if these structures can confront today's problems and demands. In addition, counties (like cities) do not have fiscal home rule. Therefore, their ability to raise revenue without relying too heavily upon property taxes is limited. Finally, counties are not the only type of local government providing services to citizens. Cities and special purpose district governments also exist in most counties. Thus, intergovernmental cooperation is necessary if South Carolinians are to be served well by their governments. Sorting out who provides what service to local residents may be necessary in the future as local governments provide similar types of services. The future will demand that our citizens better understand how their local governments work and what changes may be needed to help them work more effectively.