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Intergovernmental Relations. LOCAL-LOCAL RELATIONS. The Lakewood Plan which several cities will contract with the County government, for instance, to provide law enforcement. Councils of Government

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local local relations


The Lakewood Plan

which several cities will contract with the County government, for instance, to provide law enforcement.

Councils of Government

Representatives of several local governments will Meet regularly to discuss matters of common concern and, perhaps, even adopt united action. The may receive funds from members and hire a staff to develop and coordinate planning actions. COGs address such functions as transportation, parks and recreation, sewers, and land-use planning.

Intergovernmental Consolidation

The most extreme form of inter-local coordination is intergovernmental consolidation. One example is metropolitan government ("metro"), in which an area-wide government is established. Metropolitan government has been unpopular in the United States, with just a small number of areas instituting it (such as Nashville-Davidson County and Miami-Dade County).

state local relations


Dillon's Rule Historically, as noted before, state-local relations have been best described by "Dillon's Rule.“ (1911):

"it is a general and undisputed proposition of law that a municipal corporation possesses and can exercise the following powers, and no others: First, those granted in express words; second, those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted; third, those essential to the accomplishment of the declared objects and purposes of the corporation - not simply convenient, but indispensable. Any fair, reasonable doubt concerning the existence of power is resolved by the courts against the corporation, and the power is denied.

Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler put it even more bluntly in Trenton v. New Jersey (1923):

“In the absence of state constitutional revisions safeguarding it to them, municipalities have no inherent right of self-government which is beyond the legislative control of state.”



The state compels the local government to carry out certain programs; A study published in the early 1980s indicates that the average state has thirty-five different mandates requiring spending by local governments.

The most common mandates focused on special education, solid waste disposal, and eligibility for police and firefighter pensions.

Mandates do help create uniformity in policy within a state. It can increase the coordination of policies within a state. However, these Mandates increase the burden on localities.

national local relations
National-Local Relations
  • Old Style Federalism
  • Dual Federalism
  • Layer Cake Federalism
  • Marble Cake Federalism
  • New Style Federalism (IGR)
  • Direct Federalism
evolution of federalism
Evolution of Federalism
  • Conflict - until 1930
  • Cooperative – 1930s-1950s
  • Concentrated – 1940s-1960s
  • Creative – 1950s-1960s
  • Competitive – 1960s-1970s
  • Calculative – 1970s-1980s
  • Contractive – 1980s-1990s
Elastic Clause (a.k.a Nec. & Proper)

- Article I, sec. 8. Gives Congress the authority to make whatever laws that are “necessary and proper” to carry out its enumerated responsibilities.

Interstate Commerce Clause

- Heart of Atlanta Motel v United States (1964)

- Legal Ruling: Commerce which concerns more than 1 State is of substantial national interest and therefore falls under the Commerce Clause.

sometimes this is great for cities

Sometimes this is great for cities


the Housing and Urban Renewal Act of 1949, helped localities to acquire and clear land to be later sold to private businesses.

Johnson Administration: Model Cities (a program under which cities could apply for federal funds to support the development of a demonstration project designed to attack poverty and urban problems in a coordinated fashion) and the War on Poverty (under which local Community Action Organizations could develop programs to combat poverty)

Another program that benefited local government was the Urban Mass Transit Act (UMTA) – 1964: 50/50 matching funds

General revenue sharing (1972) – no strings attached

Federal Government Spending

- Grants to States: land or cash grants

Purpose – push policy agenda, stimulate economy, correct for externalities

- Categorical Grants

- Block Grants

- General Revenue Sharing Grants

Ended in 1987

- Mandates

e.g., civil rights and environmental regulations; Federal criminal laws

federal funding
Federal Funding
  • 1980s three-quarters of the revenues in cities like Detroit and D.C. came from the Federal Government
  • This has declined steadily over the last 20-30 years.
federal mandates
Federal Mandates
  • Between 1981-86 Reagan’s administration presided over the growth of over 6000 new obligations on states and localities
  • Special Education: funded by feds but not fully
are these mandates fair
Are these mandates fair?
  • Pete Wilson constantly complained that federal mandates for servicing immigrants were too burdensome, but insisted that CA had a right to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal disaster rlief for property damage from earthquakes, floods, mudslides, and fires (even though CA building regulations were the cause of much of the damage – i.e. watershed, fire-lines, etc.)
  • Stimulates innovation: Cities are challenged to meet these important needs instead of just sitting back and waiting for the Federal government to write a check.
too much federal involvement
Too Much Federal Involvement
  • Bus safety
  • How firefighters should be deployed
  • How long an unruly student can be suspended
  • How much a city can spend on snow removal
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Fitness tests
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Agency
can cities get the job done
Can cities get the job done?
  • Protecting its citizens (Police lynching)
  • Atlanta Air Pollution
  • National Standards in Education (segregation, no child left behind)
  • New York; Orange Co. Bankruptcy
one size does not fit all
One Size Does Not Fit All
  • Standards are important, the history of local governance shows this
  • But standards must be achievable
    • Zero tolerance of arsenic in water
    • Zero tolerance of sexual harassment
    • Total access for citizens with disabilities
      • NY subways
      • Special education mandates and regulations
are these mandates needed universally
Are these mandates needed universally?
  • By 1986 when Congress moved to extend to preschoolers the universal right to special education (42 states already did)
  • Most school districts began asbestos removal before congressional action
  • But how do you make sure that the lagging states/cities are moving toward a national standard without burdening those that already meet or exceed the standard?
  • Market Solutions: people will leave cities that don’t provide adequate services
  • Market-like incentives: give states money for evidence of improvements
  • Government command and control regulations
  • Cooperative Federalism – sharing of responsibilities