County Governments

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What do you think is the main job of city
government?
 Explain.

Section 1
The U.S. Constitution does not mention
the existence of local governments.
 Local governments are created by and
totally dependent upon the state.
 Most states define a municipality as an
incorporated place a locality with an
officially organized government that
provides services to residents.


New cities are added each year as urban
communities incorporate.
› Done by applying for a city charter a
document that grants power to a local
government.
› Some states require a population minimum

Many state legislatures have begun to
grant home rule to cities
› This allows cities to write their own charters,
choose their own type of government, and
manage their own affairs, although they still
have to follow state laws.
Whether a city is called a city, town, or
village depends on local preference or the
charter specifications.
 Most city governments provide the same
basic services.

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Law enforcement
Fire protection
Street repair
Water and sewage systems
Garbage pick-up
Parks and Recreation
Power is divided between separate
legislative and executive branches.
 Voters elect a mayor and members of a
city council.
 Mayor is chief executive of the city and
responsible for overseeing the operation
of administrative offices.
 Mayor often appoints heads of
departments (public works, planning,
police, roads, buildings)

The Council acts as the city’s legislature,
approving the city budget and passing
ordinances (city laws).
 Larger cities have larger councils
 Some cities are divided into voting
districts called wards.

› Each ward elects a representative for their
district.

In other cities, council members are
members-at-large.

The powers of the mayors vary
› Large cities strong-mayor system
 Mayor has strong executive powers
 Veto of ordinances passed by city council
 Put together city budget
› Smaller towns weak-mayor system
 Power is limited
 Council appoints department heads
Seen in 1912 as a way to reform corrupt or
ineffective mayor-council governments.
 The city council appoints a manager

› Recommends budget, oversees city
departments, and deals with personnel matters.

Smaller cities with managers often have
council members elected in at-large
elections
› run city-wide elections rather than running by
district.
Five commissioners are selected in citywide
elections.
 Each commissioner heads a major
department

› Police, fire, finance, health, and public works
Commissioners pick one of the members to
serve as mayor
 Issues with this form

› No one person is in charge
› Newly elected commissioners may not know
much about the departments they are now
managing.
A special district is a unit of government
that deals with a specific function, such
as education, water supply, or
transportation.
 School districts are the most common
form of special district.
 A board or commission may be elected
or appointed to run a special district.

A metropolitan area is a central city and
its surrounding suburbs
 Recognized by the U.S. Census when city
and suburbs have a combined 50,000
residents
 Some large metropolitan areas have
created a council of governments.

What are some difference between
cities, towns, townships, and villages?
 Explain.

Section 2
When counties were mapped out in the
South and West in the 19th Century, the
idea was for the people in the further
part of the county to be able to reach
the county courthouse and back home
by horse and buggy in the same day.
 This is why Southern and Western states
have so many small counties.
 The towns where county courthouse is
located is called the county seat.

A board of three to five commissioners or
supervisors govern most counties.
 The board acts as a legislative body
passing laws and ordinances, the annual
budget, levying taxes.
 In some counties, the board acts as only
a legislative body and they select a
manager.


Separately elected officials runs some
county administrative offices.
› Sheriff chief law enforcement officer
› District Attorney the county’s prosecutor

County Assessor examines all taxable
property within the county and estimates
how much it is worth.
Section 3
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Americans use the word “town” for a small
city
The town form of government occurs in
New England states
Within this form, colonists met regularly to
discuss issues that involved everyone in the
majority
Town meetings an exercise in the direct
democracy
Today in New England, residents come
together once a year to discuss and vote
upon issues in their communities.
Each New England town elects a group
of officials called “select men” to run
local government
 Many New England towns have
replaced this direct democracy with
representative democracy.

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New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
were divided into townships
› Smaller than New England towns but have
similar government.

Townships in the Midwest
› Congress divided the land into perfect
squares, usually 6 miles by 6 miles.

Most townships elect a township
committee, board of supervisors, or
board of trustees.
The smallest unit of local protects that
benefit the community government
 Meetings occur when citizens are
dissatisfied with something from a higher
form of government.
 Consists of a small board of trustees
elected by voters
 Village board has the power to collect
taxes and spend money

Section 1
Public Policy a general agreement
among government leaders about how to
deal with issues or problems that affect the
entire community.
 Ideas for public policy come from many
sources
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Party leaders
Interest groups
Members of the media
Private citizens
 Ex. MADD
Many useful public policies try to foresee
problems and prevent them.
 Many local governments have planning
commissions to deal with these issues.


Short-term policy meant to be carried
out over the next few years.
› Ex. Granting a builder a permit to construct
apartments
Long-term policy a broader, less
detailed policy mean to serve as a guide
over the next 10, 20, or 50 years.
 Infrastructure system of roads, bridges,
water, and sewers.


Priorities the goals a community
considers most important or most urgent.
› A community must first decide what is more
important to have thriving commerce or a
peaceful place to live.

Resources the money, people, and
materials available t accomplish the
community’s goals.
Master plan a document that states a
set of goals and explains how the
government will carry them out to meet
changing needs over time.
 Planning commission normally submits its
plan to the government, which then
decides whether to adopt it and use it as
a guide.

Section 2
The writers of the U.S. Constitution left power
over public education to the states.
 1816, Indiana set up the first modern public
school system
 In most states today, elementary and high
school education remains a local
responsibility with state guidelines.
 The Federal Government shares in only 10%
of funding for public schools, but it imposes
certain rules on school districts.

In 2001, President George W. Bush signed
“No Child Left Behind”
 This law authorized $26.5 billion in federal
spending on education, but also increased
the rules that schools must follow.
 The biggest issue facing state governments
is providing a high quality education
equally to all students.

› The gap occurs between districts because many
districts depend heavily upon property taxes to
fund schools
Low test schools
 High drop-out rate

More than 30 states now permit the
creation of charter schools
 These schools receive state funding, but
they are excused from meeting many
public school regulations.
 Opponents argue that this takes funds
away from public schools and that
better students will leave for charter
schools

Tuition vouchers a kind of government
money order.
 Parents can use these vouchers to enroll
their students in private schools.
 Teacher’s unions oppose vouchers because
they feel they funnel education funds out of
the public school system.
 Others argue this violates the First
Amendment because vouchers can be
used to pay tuition at religious schools.

› Cleveland, Ohio, 95% of students on the voucher
program attend religious affiliated schools.
Private companies contract with local
districts to run the schools.
 Businesses make a profit from the
schools.

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The 2001 federal education bill requires
states to test all students in reading,
math, and soon science.
› ARMT

Supporters of these tests say this holds
schools and teachers accountable, but
many teacher organizations oppose
such testing.
Crime rates are typically higher in large
cities.
 Police Forces

› Urban police are the main crime-fighting
force in the country.
› Every state has a force known as the
highway patrol or state police
› Police enforce the law and keep peace in
communities.
Our government tries to help people who
are ill, old, in poverty, and physically
disabled with welfare programs
 Critics of welfare claim it undermines selfrespect among the poor and encourages
dependency upon the government.
 Defenders of welfare claim that it is the only
way poorly educated, unemployed female
heads of households and their children can
avoid homelessness.

Payday loans
 Government Housing
 WIC
 Food Stamps

Section 3

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
› Sets goals and standards for environmental
protection
Solid waste technical name for
garbage
 Americans produce 250 millions tons of
solid waste each year.

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Incineration
› Smoke pollution

Recycling
› Reusing old materials to make new ones

Conservation
› The careful preservation and protection of
our natural resources
Toxic byproducts of industry
 Radioactive waste from nuclear power
plants
 Runoff from pesticides
 Environmentalists estimate that only 10%
of hazardous waste is disposed of
properly

Water pollution factories producing
chemical waste.
 Federal regulation limit the kinds of waste
a factory can discharge.
 Cars and Trucks are the worst air polluters

› Building improved public transportation
systems
› Encouraging car pooling

Smoking is a source of indoor pollution
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