What is the job of local government?
Where do local governments get their power?
What municipalities make up Blair County?
What types of government are used by local
Geography of BLAIR COUNTY
The Need for Local Government
The biggest role of local government is to provide conveniences
and SERVICES we the public use every day.
ROADS AND BRIDGES
Water and water conservation
(Some but not all) – Trash removal, electricity, gas
Main job of local government is to make a community a
better place to live (SAFE, CONVENIENT, PROSPEROUS)
ORDINANCES are laws that govern a community – Ex. DOG
WASTE PICKUP, USE OF BURNING BARRELS, CURFEW FOR
Helps the state with health and safety of citizens
Land Use – ZONING protects safety and property value –
NO PIG FARMS in H-burg Borough
Health and Welfare – POLICE and FIRE SERVICES
How do local governments know what to do?
Charter is a basic plan of government approved by the
state (Sort of like a constitution)
Dillon’s Rule – Iowa Judge from 1868 who was fed
up with dishonesty ruled that all local governments
must be authorized by state legislature (Incorporated)
by being given a charter and have very limited
powers to govern themselves.
Home Rule – Michigan Judge Cooley thought Dillon
was too restrictive and so created the Charter form
or optional form of gov. giving locals more power.
Places can alter their charter without checking in
with state for every little thing.
Most places (PA for example) use home rule now.
County government is the largest form of local
government (Name could also be Parish, or Borough)
State is divided up into these sections to complete
the following: run elections, enforce laws, serve as
court districts. 67 Counties in PA
The central location or head of the county is called the
County Seat . Hollidaysburg is the one for Blair County.
It is led by a group called either
Board of Commissioners (*) We have three
and jobs include
Leaders – Terry Tomasetti, Donna Gority, Ted Beam
Act as Legislative and Executive
Jobs – Tax or Property assessment/collection
Oversee County Jail
Oversee County Hospital or Retirement Home
County Board or Board of County Supervisors
Executive person is called a County Manager or Chief Clerk – Helen
Schmitt was appointed by the commissioners to keep the books and
accounts of the board of county commissioners, the salary board, and the
pension board; to record and file all proceedings and papers from meetings
Others important employees include:
Treasurer - responsible for monies and issuing of
dog, hunting and fishing licences
Controller – Internal auditor of expenses
Sherriff – issues warrants, PFA, and handles courthouse
Coroner – Issues death certificates and conduct autopsies
District Attorney – Prosecutes criminals
Prothonotary – Clerk of records from all court cases +
marriages and divorces
Recorder of Deeds and Wills - Handles paper work of
land/real estate purchase and death certificates
Municipalities or Unit of local
government that is incorporated by
Typically, municipalities are categorized based on size of
population and/or urban (city) vs rural (country)
1. Examples are city, town, village, or borough
Altoona - CITY
Allegheny, Blair, Frankstown, Logan, Antis -
Hollidaysburg - BOROUGH
Duncansville - BOROUGH
Towns and Townships
Towns are smaller than a city but bigger than a village.
Concept of town hall meeting comes from towns – All
citizens meet to discuss town issues. ORIGINATED IN COLONIAL
NEW ENGLAND STATES
NOTE: Townships vary in size depending on where they are. (Civil)
Townships in Midwest are larger than towns but in the
Northeast, townships are smaller.
i. Led by a Township Supervisor and assisted by a Board of
ii. A panel of Township Supervisors who act as both legislative
and executive bodies.
iii. Decreasing in importance because municipalities are merging
to reduce cost.
If any of the above three gets a large enough population they can petition the
state to give them the status of CITY, but many like to keep the original status
because they like the sense of community associated with those names. ***
Cities vary both in size (NYC – 8 million to Parker PA
799) and in type of government (4 main types). More and
more cities are being given HOME RULE by their state which
allows them to alter their own charter. The following are the
four types of government
* Mayor- Council Plan
1. Weak Mayor Plan – an elected official serves as mayor
but the city council has most power. Mayor gets one vote
which is the same as the council.
2. Strong Mayor Plan – Mayor is chief executive officer
who is the primary power holder (Pittsburgh, Philly, NY)
a. Appoints city officials
b. Prepares budget
c. Vetoes ordinances
* Council-Manager Plan –
Council is lawmaking body
Manager runs the city like a BUSINESS attempting to save as
much money as possible; Appointed by Council – NOT ELECTED
May or may not have a MAYOR to run political dealings
(Hollidaysburg and Altoona have a mayor but they are more
figure heads who are equal to council members in voting
power – Mayor Dodson is in charge of Borough Police)
* Commission Form of Gov’t – City is run by 3 -9 elected
officials each in charge of different categories. They act as
both legislative and executive
- Health and safety
- Public welfare
Unit of Government that combines several areas/municipalities for
practical reasons – save money, gather groups/teams, logistics
School District (HASD = FRANKSTOWN, BLAIR, JUNIATA, ALLEGHENY
TOWNSHIPS AND HOLLIDAYSBURG, DUNCANSVILLE AND NEWRY BOROUGHS)
Hired executive of the School District is SUPERINTENDENT
The elected governing body of the school district is the SCHOOL BOARD
How Governments work together
A. Supreme law of the land is the Constitution. No state or local law can
impede or supersede the Constitution
B. Most of the time all three levels work together (roads, taxes, education)
i. Local roads paid for by local gov.
ii. PA Turnpike paid for by state gov.
iii. Interstate (I-80) paid for by federal gov.
C. Usually about 1/3 of local gov’t income comes from state/federal gov’t.
i. Grants-in-aid – (Specific)
ii. Block Grants – (General)
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