Political and administrative structure
As in most European countries, the political system in Norway is comprised of three levels; national, regional and local. The 19 counties of Norway represent the regional level. The current administrative system dates back to the 12th century, from a time when kings appointed regional administrators among their staff of military leaders and civil servants. From 1837 locally elected representatives met on local and regional levels, thus constituting a politically elected county council. From 1976 the members of the county council have been elected directly by the inhabitants of the county. It should also be mentioned that in each county the national government has a governmental executive as head of an administrative function pertaining to the national level.
The county council is elected for a four year period. The council is headed by a chairman who is elected by council members. The county has a secretariat and a main administration which is headed by the Chief County Executive.
The number of county council members varies from county to county. The manner in which the county councils organise their political and administrative functions, may also vary. The county council in Aust-Agder consists of 35 elected representatives, with the following organisational structure
The county council normally holds six sessions annually, with each session lasting 1 - 2 days. During each session the council is divided into preparatory committees prior to a full plenary meeting during the latter half of the session. The council elects an executive board of nine members who meet 1 - 2 times pr. month between the regular sessions of the county council.
The Chief County Executive is the chief executive officer of a secretariat with about 110 employees, located in Arendal. The secretariat is divided into sections responsible for a wide range of county-level activities and services, such as secondary schools, dental clinics, etc. The total number of county employees is roughly 850.
County-level activities and services
The counties of Norway are responsible for public services and activities functioning on a regional level.
In Aust-Agder County this includes the following services:
- Health care and social welfare
Running of 8 secondary schools for about 4 500 students.
The co-ordination of industrial training for apprentices.
- Development of industry
Information and guidance.
Allocation of economic incentives to new enterprises, loans, etc.
- Regional planning
Development of comprehensive 4-year plans for regional development.
Coordinative consultative functions with local municipalities.
Consultative body concerning environmental issues and issues of physical implementations in sensitive coastal areas.
Communication planning and allocation of subsidies to transport companies.
- Cultural activities
Cultural planning and co-ordination of cultural activities.
Allocation of subsidies to organisations and cultural events.
Responsibility for protection of culturally important buildings.
Aust-Agder County Council,
Ragnvald Blakstads vei 1,
P.O. Box 788 Stoa,
Telephone: (47) 37 01 73 00
Telefax: (47) 37 01 73 03