Chapter 13 (“Local Government”) City Governments (13.1) City Governments • All local governments are created by the state, with their powers and duties established in the state constitutions. • They are not mentioned within the U.S. Constitution. City Governments • A “municipality” is defined as an incorporated place, or an area that is officially organized to provide services to its residents. City Governments • All incorporated areas begin by applying for a city charter, which acts like a city “constitution”. • Each charter must be approved by the state. • “Home Rule” allows cities to write their own charters to create their own governments. City Services Types of City Governments • Charters usually create one of three kinds of governments: 1. Mayor-Council Form 2. Council-Manager Form 3. Commission Form “Mayor-Council Form” • In this form, power is divided between the mayor and city councils. • “Ordinances” are the laws that are passed by this ruling body. • This is the most common form. “Strong-Mayor vs. Weak-Mayor” Other Forms: • In the “CouncilManager” form, the council and mayor make decisions jointly. • These members are elected in “at large” elections. • Usually hire an administrator to run the day to day operations. Other Forms: • In the “Commission” form, individual “commissioners” are elected and serve as heads of departments. • Within the group, a mayor is selected. • The commission serves as both legislative AND executive branches. Special Districts • The most numerous of all local governments. • Usually deal with specific issues: • Education • Water / Sewer • Transportation County Government (13.2) County Governments • A “county” is the largest subdivision of a state. • Only Connecticut and Rhode Island do NOT have counties. • Louisiana has “parishes” and Alaska has “boroughs” County Governments • Most counties have a centrally located county courthouse, which serves as the center of government. • The “county seat” is the town that contains this courthouse. County Governments • Despite the rising power of city governments, the county still controls many parts of government: • • • • Elections Hospitals EMS Waste Management County Governments • Most counties are governed by a board of commissioners. • “County Managers” are often appointed to help run the day to day operations of the county government. • “County Executives” are newly elected positions in some counties. Other County Offices Towns, Townships, & Villages (13.3) Towns, Townships, & Villages • Towns, townships, and villages are the smallest political units of local government. • Like cities & counties, they get all of their power from the state. Towns, Townships, & Villages • In New England states, “towns” are the most common. • Like cities & counties, they get all of their power from the state. • “Selectmen” are often chosen to carry out the day to day business. Towns, Townships, & Villages • “Town Meetings” are common in these areas, with a simple majority decision. • This is known as “direct democracy”. • In more recent times, many have become more “representative” (electing someone to speak for them) Towns, Townships, & Villages • In NY, NJ, PA, and other Midwestern areas, “townships” are still common. • A “township” is a 6 mile by 6 mile block of land. • “Township Committees” are selected to run these governments. Towns, Townships, & Villages • The “village” is the smallest form of local government. • Usually created when residents want to control their own services. • This usually results in higher taxes for the residents.