Understanding Local Government

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Local governments have their own unique characteristics and personalities. In some ways, they are similar to the Federal Government because they are totally dependent on the kind of structure and authority that has been delegated to them by their states. Although this means that there are pronounced variations from state to state, there are also basic characteristics that are common to all. Focusing on those basic characteristics, this treatise aims to provide a general understanding of the functionality of local governments.

Understanding Local Government identifies the underpinnings and the concepts that determine how local governments function in fulfilling their purpose of providing both needed and desired services to their residents. The book is designed for ease of use in both teaching and learning, having an introduction and overview at the beginning of each chapter and clearly delineated subsections. The book also makes numerous references to laws and other materials of particular states and regions, making it easy to provide illustrative examples and to supplement the text. Specific areas covered include:

•  Local authority and regulation;
•  Land use controls;
•  Local contracts;
•  Delivery of services and assistance;
•  Public access to information and right to vote;
•  Local officers and employees;
•  Local government liability; and
•  Local finances.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction to Local Government . . . . . . . . . 1
1.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
PART I FORMS AND RELATIONSHIPS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.2 Forms From Colonial Days to Present . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.3 Relationship to the Federal Government . . . . . . . . . . . 5
1.4 Relationship to the State Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
1.5 Relationship Between and Among Local Governments . . . 11
PART II GEOGRAPHICAL AND POLITICAL STRUCTURE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS . . 13
1.6 Creation and Dissolution . . . . . . . . . . 13
1.7 Change in Boundary or Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
1.8 Forms of Government . . . . . 18


Chapter 2 Local Authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
2.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
PART I HOME RULE AND OTHER DELEGATED AUTHORITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
2.2 Delegation of Home Rule Authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
2.3 State Concerns and Local Concerns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
2.4 Implied Authority and Dillon's Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
2.5 State and Federal Preemption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
PART II EXERCISE OF LOCAL AUTHORITY - LIMITATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS . . 32
2.6 Local Governing Body and Local Enactments . . . . . . . . 32
2.7 Federal and State Constitutional Requirements . . . . . . . 33
2.8 Delegation of Authority to Officers and Administrative Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36


Chapter 3 Regulation by Local Governments . . . . . . . . . 39
3.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
PART I GENERAL EXERCISE OF POLICE POWER . . . . . . 40
3.2 Nuisances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
3.3 Business Regulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
3.4 Adult Uses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
3.5 Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
3.6 Speech and Movement of Individuals . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
3.7 Other Health, Safety and Welfare Concerns . . . . . . . . . 51
3.8 Civil and Human Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
PART II LICENSES, PERMITS AND FRANCHISES . . . . . . 54
3.9 Local Licenses and Permits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
3.10 Franchises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
3.11 Telecommunications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
3.12 Challenge to the Grant or Denial of License, Permit or Franchise . . . . . . 63

Chapter 4 Private and Public Land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
4.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
PART I REGULATION OF PRIVATE LAND USE . . . . . . . 68
4.2 Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
4.3 Zoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
4.4 Applicability, Variances, Special Permits and Exceptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
4.5 Regulatory Takings and Moratoriums on Development . . . 77
4.6 Development Approval with Conditions of Exaction, Impact or Linkage Fees . . . . 81
4.7 Enforcement and Appeal from Zoning Requirements and Decisions . . . . . . . . . 83
PART II PUBLIC PROPERTY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
4.8 Acquisition and Disposition of Local Government Property . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
4.9 Public Property Liability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
4.10 Use of Public Property . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

Chapter 5 Local Contracts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
5.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
PART I AUTHORITY, PROCEDURE AND FISCAL REQUIREMENTS . . .. . . . . 94
5.2 Authority to Contract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
5.3 Procedural and Format Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
5.4 Fiscal Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
PART II COMPETITIVE BIDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
5.5 Requirement for Competitive Bids and Exceptions . . . . . 99
5.6 Specifications, Restrictions and Formalities . . . . . . . . . . 101
5.7 Local Action on Bids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
5.8 Judicial Challenge to Competitive Bidding . . . . . . . . . . 105
PART III QUASI-CONTRACTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
5.9 Local Obligation Without a Contract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
5.10 Local Obligation With an Invalid Contract . . . . . . . . . 108
PART IV ENFORCEMENT OF CONTRACTS . . . . . . . . . . . 109
5.11 Contract that is Unauthorized, Executed by Unauthorized Agent, or in Unauthorized Form or Procedure . . . . . . . 109
5.12 Contract That is Prohibited or Contrary to Public Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
5.13 Ratification or Estoppel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113

Chapter 6 Delivery of Services and Assistance . . . . . . . . 115
6.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
PART I SPECIAL DISTRICTS, AUTHORITIES, AND PRIVATIZATION . . . . 116
6.2 Education and School Districts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
6.3 Special Improvement Districts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
6.4 Public Authorities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
6.5 Privatization of Services or Assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
PART II PROTECTION, ASSISTANCE AND SERVICES TO INDIVIDUALS . . . 131
6.6 Local Liability for Law Enforcement and Fire Protection . . . . . 131
6.7 Public Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
6.8 Housing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
6.9 Local Response to Changes and Disasters . . . . . . . . . . 140
6.10 Local Courts and Dispute Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
PART III COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT . . . . . . 144
6.11 Community Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
6.12 Economic Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146

Chapter 7 Public Access to Information and Right to Vote . . . . . . 149
7.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
PART I ACCESS TO INFORMATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
7.2 Freedom of Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
7.3 Open Meetings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
7.4 Protection of Privacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
PART II LOCAL ELECTIONS AND CITIZEN RIGHT TO VOTE AND GOVERN . . . . 155
7.5 Local Elections and Voter Eligibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
7.6 Local Elections and Reapportionment . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
7.7 Equality and the Voting Rights Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
7.8 Initiative and Referendum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161

Chapter 8 Local Officers and Employees . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
8.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
PART I REQUIREMENTS FOR LOCAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES . . . . . . . . 166
8.2 Eligibility and Ethical Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166
8.3 Regulation of Activities and Conduct . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
8.4 Dismissal and Disciplinary Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
PART II PROTECTION AND LIABILITY FOR LOCAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES . . . . . 174
8.5 Constitutional and Statutory Civil Rights Protections . . . 174
8.6 Personal Liability and Qualified Immunity . . . . . . . . . . 177
8.7 Civil Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181

Chapter 9 Local Government Liability . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
9.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
PART I TORT CLAIMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
9.2 Immunity and Liability for Acts of Officers, Employees and Independent Contractors . . 186
9.3 Negligence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
9.4 Nuisance, Trespass and Unconstitutional Taking of Property . . . . . . . . . 191
PART II CONSTITUTIONAL, CIVIL RIGHTS AND ANTITRUST CLAIMS . . . . . . 193
9.5 Constitutional Claims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193
9.6 Section 1983 Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
9.7 Other Federal Civil Rights Acts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
9.8 Americans With Disabilities and Age Discrimination in Employment Act . . . . . . 203
9.9 Antitrust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205
PART III PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
9.10 Notice of Injury and Intent to File a Claim . . . . . . . . . 206
9.11 Time Limitations and Damages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208

Chapter 10 Local Finances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
10.1 Introduction and Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
PART I LOCAL REVENUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212
10.2 Federal and State Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212
10.3 Constitutional and Statutory Limitations on Local Taxation . . . . 214
10.4 Real Property Tax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
10.5 Sales and Use Taxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
10.6 Income, Gross Receipts, and Personal Property Taxes . . . 222
10.7 Fees and Special Assessments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
10.8 Other Taxes; Lotteries; and Recoupment of Public Costs From Tobacco and Gun Manufacturers . . . . . . . . . . . 226
PART II LOCAL EXPENDITURES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
10.9 Public Purpose Requirement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
10.10 Prohibited or Required Expenditures . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
10.11 Expenditure Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
PART III LOCAL INDEBTEDNESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232
10.12 Limitations on Borrowing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232
10.13 Borrowing for Community Development . . . . . . . . . . 237
10.14 Borrowing Procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238

Table of Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TC-1
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I-1