The Impact of Structural Reform on County Government Service Provision


  • *Direct all correspondence to J. Edwin Benton, Department of Government and International Affairs, SOC 107, University of South Florida, 4202 Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33647 〈〉. The author will share all data and coding materials with those wishing to replicate the study. Earlier versions of the paper were presented at the 2000 Southern Political Science Association Meeting and the 2001 Midwest Political Science Association Meeting. The author wishes to express appreciation to Richard C. Feiock, Robert M. Stein, Thomas R. Dye, and the anonymous reviewers of this journal for helpful suggestions to improve earlier drafts of the paper.


Objective. This study examines the effect that county government structure has on county spending in an environment of rapid population growth. In particular, it looks at the consequence of changing from a traditional commission noncharter form to an appointed administrator/elected executive commission type with a home rule charter.

Methods. This study uses a pooled time-series design to analyze the spending behavior of seven rapid-growth counties in Florida that adopted a modernized structure between 1980 and 1990.

Results. The findings indicate that changing the form of county government leads to a statistically significant increase in total spending as well as for spending for traditional and regional services.

Conclusions. In addition to the theoretical implications for studying government structural impacts, there are practical implications for county officials in rapidly growing areas who view the adoption of modernized structures as a means to facilitate the expansion of current services and/or the addition of new services.