There have been counties in Oregon since before statehood. Early county governments were limited in the services they provided, but since there was no state government, those services were vital to the well being of the residents of the Oregon territory. The primary responsibilities for early county governments involved forest and farm to market roads, law enforcement, courts, care for the needy and tax collections.
In the 21st century, Oregon county governments face far more complex tasks because of the increasing demands of a growing population and diverse society. Today, Oregon counties are involved in a wide range of important public services like public health, mental health, community corrections, juvenile services, criminal prosecution, hospitals, nursing homes, airports, parks, libraries, land-use planning, building regulations, refuse disposal, elections, air-pollution control, veterans services, economic development, urban renewal, public housing, county fairs, museums, animal control, civil defense, senior services and many others.
Oregon counties team with the State of Oregon and the federal government to provide many of these vital public services in an efficient and cost effective manner. With challenges facing government at all levels, Oregon counties are on the front line of making sure those vital public services continue and the people who need them receive them.
On the left you will find additional resources showing the full extent of the vital public services Oregon counties provide, including an informational document we call the "Shared Services Chart." Please feel free to contact the Association of Oregon Counties if you need additional information.