Having just learned about state constitutions and legislatures in the previous chapter, the following chapter is based on local government and finance. It is broken up into the following 4 sections: Counties, Towns, and Townships, Cities and Metropolitan Areas, Providing Vital Services, and Financing State and Local Government.
First I will talk about Counties, Towns and Townships. Counties are a major unit of local government in most states, which is created by the State. There are 3,033 county governments in the U.S. today. The number of county governments per States differ from none in Connecticut to 254 in Texas. The functions of counties vary from region to region. In Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic States counties are divided into townships. Townships and Counties share the same functions in these States. The structure of county government also differs. A county has four major elements: a governing body, a number of boards, appointed bureaucrats, and a variety of elected officials. Counties are creations of the State therefore they are responsible for the administration of State laws. Now towns and townships exist in nearly half of the States. They are most commonly found from New England to the Midwest. In New England, the town is a major unit of local government. Townships are units of local government found principally in the Northeast and Midwest. Within a township are municipalities. Besides counties, towns and townships there are special districts, which are independent units created to perform one or more related governmental functions at the local level.
The next section is Cities and Metropolitan Areas. Incorporation is the process by which a State establishes a city as a legal body. A State requires that a minimum number of persons live within a given area before incorporation can take place. The charter is a city’s basic law. The charter sets out the other powers vested in the city and outlines its form of government. There are...
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