Barnstable County is working for you.

Barnstable County Regional Government

Much of the information on this page is excerpted from “How Barnstable County is Governed,” from the Educational Trust for the League of Women Voters of Lower Cape Cod, Orleans, 1991. Barnstable County thanks the League for its assistance.

Barnstable County is one of the three original counties created in Plymouth Colony and was established in 1685. Barnstable County is nearly coextensive with the peninsula known as Cape Cod, and provides services to the 15 towns within its borders. As of July 1, 2016, the current population was 214, 276. (

What Makes Barnstable County Unique

Barnstable County exists to serve the 15 towns, and therefore the 200,000 + residents of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The numerous services that the County provides to the towns and residents are listed here.

How Barnstable County Became a Coordinator of Regional Services

At a time when county governments were beginning to go by the wayside in Massachusetts, the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter of 1988 transformed the County into a unique, broad-based coordinator of regional services to address challenges common to our 15 towns.  It provided certain rights of home rule, as well as opportunities for increased citizen participation in county government.

The second major change – the Cape Cod Commission Act of 1990 – created a regional planning agency with regulatory power.  Please see The Cape Cod Commission.

By the late 1990s, most county-level governments were eliminated in Massachusetts.  Today, only the southeastern third of the state has functioning county governments, Barnstable being one of them.

The Home Rule Charter states:

Read Our Home Rule Charter in its entirety.

Barnstable County’s organizational chart below. Download it here: Barnstable County Organizational Chart_revised 1_14_2019 (65 downloads)