Other Services

Some counties provide such services as recreation facilities and library services. These other non traditional services are usually offered in response to public demand. For example, most county libraries were established since World War II and are not regarded as a traditional type of county service. In 1950, 31 South Carolina counties provided library service. Today, 44 out of the 46 (96%) counties feature library service.

According to a 1979 survey by Clemson University, the following services are performed by at least 50 percent of all South Carolina counties: tax assessment; emergency medical service; land records; elections; libraries; disaster preparedness; solid waste disposal; tax collection; health, welfare and social services (including alcohol/drug programs, special services to the aged, home health, mental health, food stamps, indigent defense, maternal and child care, emergency financial assistance, individual and family social services, child welfare, vital statistics, development disabilities, income maintenance, day care services, hospital care, sanitation inspections, insect control, and outpatient medical care); human resource services (including public service employment, job training, work experience programs, and human resource planning); law enforcement/criminal justice services (including juvenile and family courts, detention facilities, criminal prosecution, adult and juvenile probation, general and limited jurisdiction courts, forensic investigations, and criminal records); airports; and soil conservation.

Clearly, many of these services are nontraditional and the extent of their performance reflects the changing service role of county governments. Indeed, according to Herbert S. Duncombe in Modern County Government (1977), "the increased county service role represents...the most significant change in county government in the last six decades." Until very recent times, the typical South Carolina County provided about a dozen state mandated services, such as recording deeds, property tax assessment and collection, law enforcement, a court system, and road maintenance. Today, many counties perform over one hundred services and many of there are in the nontraditional or urban categories such as water and sewer systems, planning and zoning, solid waste management, recreation programs and so on. This future promises a continuation of this pattern. Increasingly, counties will be looked to as the key provider of a full range of urban services. How well they respond to this demand will determine their success as local government.