How Does Government Work in Monroe County?

Map of Monroe County Municipal Boundaries

Monroe County has five municipalities. The remaining areas are Unincorporated Monroe County. (See map above). The County and municipalities each have their own governing body.

The County also has five elected Constitutional Officers: Clerk of the Court & Comptroller, Sheriff, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser and Supervisor of Elections.


The Board of County Commissioners governs unincorporated Monroe County and primary County government functions. The Commission consists of five members elected at large for staggered terms of four years in the General Election in November in the even years. Should there be no opposition from an opposing party, an election is determined in the September Primary. However, this has not happened recently, because both the Republican and Democrat Parties have had candidates in most races. Candidates must be registered voters and reside in the districts from which they qualify. The districts are redistricted after each Census. The precincts for each district are listed with each Commissioner's name.

Now serving on the Commission: Mayor David Rice, Mayor Pro Tem Sylvia Murphy, Commissioner George Neugent, Commissioner Heather Carruthers and Commissioner Danny Kolhage.

The County Administrator, County Attorney, Land Authority, Tourist Development Council and Medical Examiner answer directly to the BOCC.

The BOCC approves Monroe County's budget, which includes the budgets for the Constitutional Offices. The municipalities governing bodies' oversee their own municipal budgets.

Monroe County Mayor

Monroe County Mayor is the title given the chairperson of the Board of Commissioners. At the first meeting of the Board after the General Election (and again at any subsequent meeting when desired) one of the Commissioners is chosen by majority vote to serve as Mayor. A Mayor pro tem is designated at the same meeting. As chairperson, the Mayor presides over Board meetings and serves as representative of the County on ceremonial occasions. At election time, the chairperson serves on the Canvassing Board. The chairperson is also responsible for signing documents and cosigning, with the County Clerk, all County checks.

Duties of the Board of County Commissioners:

  • Review and pass the County budget and levy taxes.
  • Make appropriations for operation of the County as identified in the budget.
  • Authorize bonds for capital improvements.
  • Manage County properties through the County Administrator.
  • Confirm division and department heads appointed by the County Administrator
  • Appoint special boards and committees.
  • Establish policy which, through the County Administrator, filters down to department heads and others who carry it out.
  • Present ordinances to the public for hearings and then vote whether or not to adopt them for inclusion in the County Code.

BOCC Meetings

Meetings are held once a month on a rotating basis at Murray Nelson Government Center in the Upper Keys, the Marathon Government Center and the Commission Chambers of the Harvey Government Center at Historic Truman School in Key West. When there are conflicting schedules, meetings are held at other locations. The minutes of the Board of Commissioners' meetings are available to the public through the Clerk of the Court's office and on the County website.

Public Welcome

The public is always welcome to attend meetings of the Board, and any citizen wishing to speak on an agenda item may, by registering his request with the Clerk before the item is called, voice an opinion when the item comes up for discussion. In addition to routine County business, the Board of Commissioners holds public hearings on many subjects, including proposed ordinances, the County Budget, capital projects (public buildings and major improvements) and their acquisition, construction and equipping, as well as on appeals to decisions of the Planning Commission and for special taxing districts for fire and ambulance service. The County website, County Facebook page and local newspapers, radio and cable television announce the dates, times and places of board meetings and board hearings.