Forms of Local Government

A Handbook on City, County and Regional Options


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About the Book

This handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the various forms of government below the state level now in use in the United States of America. It sorts through the traditional commission, mayor-council, strong mayor, and council-manager models for counties, cities, townships and school districts. The book also treats those entities that transcend the traditional boundaries of cities and counties, including the evolving residential community associations and regional government structures. Further examination is given to sub-metropolitan districts such as municipalities and boroughs.
A clear basis for assessing the productivity and effectiveness of the various forms of government is provided by 38 contributors in 45 essays, considering such issues as revenue, privatization, strategic planning, suburbanization, city-county consolidation, and other urban and rural topics. The proper roles for elected and appointed officials in all models are explored.

About the Author(s)

Roger L. Kemp, Ph.D., has been a city manager on both the East and West coasts for more than 25 years and holds International City/County Management Association credentials. He has taught at the University of California, Rutgers University, the University of New Haven, and the University of Connecticut. He is a distinguished adjunct professor in the Executive MPA Program at Golden Gate University.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Roger L. Kemp
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 398
Bibliographic Info: diagrams, tables, index
Copyright Date: 2007 [1999]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3100-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1


1 Overview of Local Governments      5

2 The Structure of Local Governments      11

3 Evolution of National Civic League Policies      27

4 Sharing the Load of Governance      35

5 The Responsible Public Executive      41


6 Forms of Local Government in American History      47

7 Contemporary Choices for Citizens      63

8 The Council-Manager Form of Government      69

9 Understanding the Role of the Mayor’s Office      75

10 Theory v. Reality with the Council-Manager Plan      82

11 An Assessment of the Council-Manager Plan      89


12 Overview of County Governments      95

13 Organization of County Governments      101

14 The Suburban County      117

15 The Rural County      122

16 County Leadership Models      126


17 Regional Governance and the Post-Industrial Economy      135

18 Regional Cooperation: Global Competitiveness and Urban Reform      144

19 From Metropolitan Cooperation to Governance      151

20 The Evolution of Regional Planning      159

21 Models of Regional Governance      172

22 Regional Governance and Regional Councils      186


23 Contemporary Trends in Municipal Government Structures      195

24 Form and Adaptation of Municipal Government Structures      207

25 Fractured Cities: When Power Becomes Fragmented      220

26 What to Do When Reformed Government Doesn’t Work      226

27 Writing Home-Rule Charters      231

28 The Benefits of the Council-Manager Plan      236


29 County Government: A Century of Change      245

30 Counties in Transition: Issues and Challenges      255

31 City-County Consolidation: A Matter of Efficiency?      260

32 City-County Consolidation: Learning from Failure      267

33 The Evolutionary Consolidation Model      272

34 A Report to the Charter Review Board      280


35 The Case for Regional Cooperation      297

36 Regions in Action: Regional Governance and Global Competitiveness      309

37 Regionalism: The New Geography of Opportunity      319

38 The Metropolitan Council: Integrating Planning and Operations      333

39 Revenue Sharing and Urban Growth      339


40 The Lure of the Strong Mayor      347

41 Beware of the Lure of the Strong Mayor      353

42 Good Government, Bad Government      358

43 County Government in the 21st Century      365

44 Regional Excellence in the 21st Century      373

45 Hope for “Suburbanitis”      377

About the Contributors      381

Index      383

Book Reviews & Awards

“highly recommended”The Midwest Book Review; “thorough overview of the various forms of local government”—Booklist; “a good resource”—ARBA; “valuable…an excellent reference source…non-technical and does not require any prior knowledge of the subject matter”—Government Finance Review; “offers an overview of the various forms of government below the state level…considers urban and rural issues such as revenue, privatization, strategic planning, suburbanization, and city-county consolidation”—Reference & Research Book News.