Governmental Organization and Records System
(First entry, p. 24)
of which $267,344 was the assessed valuation of lands under tax certificates, taxes for which were not extended on the tax rolls, and $19,860 was the assessed valuation of homestead exemptions. The taxable assessed valuation of real estate was $619,070.
2. GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION AND RECORDS SYSTEM
The first counties in Florida were created on July 21, 1821, at which time Andrew Jackson, as governor of East and West Florida, established Escambia and St. Johns counties by executive ordinance (“Historical (Preface)” to C. G. L., p. 4). Florida became a territory on March 30, 1822, and on August 12, 1822, the Legislative Council divided the territory into four counties, two in West Florida, called Escambia and Jackson, and two in East Florida, called Duval and St. Johns (ibid., p. 28). Florida was admitted to the Union on March 3, 1845, under a Constitution that had been adopted in 1838. In 1845 there were 25 counties in existence (ibid., pp. 12, 29-30). There are now 67 counties in the state. Hendry county was created on May 11, 1923, and was the sixty-third county created in the state (ibid., p. 30).
The county as a separate unit of government is more clearly defined and recognized in the present Constitution of Florida, adopted in 1885, than in any of the four previous state Constitutions. The Constitution of 1885 directs that the state shall be divided into political division to be called counties, and recognizes the several counties in existence prior to its adoption as the legal political divisions of the state (Fla. Const., 1885, Art. VIII, secs. 1-2). The supreme court of Florida has held that, “While the county is an agency of the state, it is also under our Constitution, to some extent at least, and autonomous, self-governing, political entity with respect to exclusively local affairs, in performance of which functions it is distinguished from its creator, the state, and for its acts and obligations when acting in purely local matters the state is not responsible” (Amos, State Comptroller et al v. Mathews, 99 Fla. 1, 126 So. 308).
The legislature is given the power to establish a uniform system of county and municipal government, which shall be applicable, except where local or special laws for counties are provided by the legislature that may be inconsistent therewith (Fla. Const., 1885, Art. III, as amended). The legislature is also given the power to establish new counties and to change county lines. But every newly established county is held liable for its proportion of the then existing liabilities of the county or counties from which it is formed, rated upon the basis of the assessed value of the property, both real and personal, subject to taxation within the territory taken from any county or counties. Conversely, every county acquiring additional territory from another county is held liable for its proportion of the liabilities of such other county existing at the time of such acquisition, to be rated upon the basis of the assessed value of all property subject to taxation within such acquired territory. (Ibid., Art. VIII, sec. 3.)