Local governments can be a lot different from town to town, or village to village. Before even getting into the details of local government, the name of those local governments can make the governmental organization more confusing. Local governments are split into two main categories: Counties and Municipalities. Both of these, though, can go by a few different names, and can be subdivided, too.
What is a County?
The state government divides the state into smaller areas, often called counties. In Alaska and Louisiana, they’re called boroughs and parishes, respectively. This level of local government is smaller than the state, but bigger than individual towns. Some of the services provided by county governments often go unnoticed, or are attributed to different levels of the government. Positions like County Sheriff are obvious, but many state governments also give counties the responsibility of providing funding for health care, infrastructure, and in some places, even parks and libraries are regulated by the county.
What is a Municipality?
A municipality, much like a country, can go by different names in different places. Even within counties, the name of the smaller divisions of towns can have different names. They can be a village, borough, town, township, or city. Each of these has their own form of local government that operates under the county. The responsibilities of this level of local government include: parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts, public transportation, and public works which includes everything from streets and sewers to snow removal and signage.
Some rolls in local government are elected, like city council and the mayor, but others are public administrators that manage more specific day to day responsibilities.
Jobs in Local Government
Each of these positions also has a team of dedicated public servants helping them lead the community in these areas. From public works to parks and recreation, there are teams of people working for communities across the country who believe in the power of local government.