Philadelphia Old City Hall
Philadelphia Old City Hall

City Government

There are many ways cities are created, and there exists considerable variation in their power and authority. We’ve created these public resources to help enhance understanding of local government.

City Government subtopics:

 

Recent

  • Fact Sheet
Background

A metropolitan council, also known as a regional council or council of government, is a general term that encompasses a wide range of entities, including some that are not "metropolitan" and some that are not "councils." They are…

People working together
People working together
  • Fact Sheet

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau (2012) counted 35,879 general purpose local governments, which includes 19,519 municipal governments, 16,360 town and township governments, and 3,031 county governments.

For state-by-state…

  • Fact Sheet
Background

A municipal charter is the basic document that defines the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of the city government. It is comparable to the Constitution of the United States or a state's constitution. The…

Government building
Government building
  • Fact Sheet
Background

Through their constitutions or laws, all states establish mechanisms by which local governments are created. Some are created by direct state action - through a charter, for example. However, most are created because state statutes…

City building columns
City building columns
  • Fact Sheet
Background

A municipal charter is the legal document that defines the organization, powers, functions, and essential procedures of the city government. The charter also details the form of municipal government, of which there are historically…

State capitol building
State capitol building
  • Fact Sheet
Background

According to the Education Commission of the States, the majority of local boards of public school systems elect their members. Some school boards, however, have some or all of their board members appointed by the mayor. A sample of…

school hallway
school hallway
  • Fact Sheet
Background

Regardless of city size or geography, all cities experience some development outside their boundaries (in the “fringe” areas) often due to less expensive land prices or less restrictive zoning laws. Not only are these fringes socially…

  • Fact Sheet
Background

The Constitution of the United States does not mention local governments. Instead, the Tenth Amendment reserves authority-giving powers to the states. It is not surprising, then, that there is a great diversity in state-local…

Legislative building
Legislative building
  • Fact Sheet
Background

With the great variation from state to state, there are multiple terms used to identify persons elected to municipal office. The chief-elected official is commonly called the mayor. The mayor may be elected directly or appointed by an…

Council building
Council building
  • Fact Sheet
Background

With the great variation from state to state, there are multiple terms used to identify persons elected to municipal office. The chief-elected official is commonly called the mayor. The mayor may be elected directly or appointed by an…

Two people shaking hands
Two people shaking hands