General-Purpose State Governments

722 Words3 Pages
American local governments sprouted in response to a combination of citizen demand, interest group pressure, and state government acquiescence. As a consequence, no scientific system of local government exists. General-purpose local governments perform a wide variety of governmental functions, and counties, municipalities, and towns and townships all fall into this category. Special purpose local governments generally focus on a specific purpose and one function. Best known of these are the school districts. Regardless of name, it is state government that gives local governments of all types their legal life.
Counties were created to function as appendages of the state, but modernization and population growth have put pressures on counties
…show more content…
There are some 33,000 special districts around the country, and their number is growing. They overlay existing general-purpose governments and differ in their organization—they are minuscule to mammoth. They continue to exist because of technical and practical limits on the general-purpose local government, the special debt and tax advantages under which the special district operates, and the political power that they accrue. They accrue political power because of restrictive annexation laws faced by cities and the limits on county government authority. Once created, the special-district interests fight encroachment by general-purpose governments. Supporters argue they are efficient in providing a service and are responsive to constituents whose needs were not met by general-purpose government. However, many scholars look at them with a jaundiced eye, because they feel that they operate without enough political accountability and that well placed groups are their special beneficiaries. Some states are taking action to give general-purpose local governments more input into the creation of new special
Get Access