Local Government 101

In North Carolina, the term “local government” can refer to a city, town, village or county.

Local governments derive their responsibilities for the delivery of public services from the state. In other words, the state tells local governments what they can and cannot do. This authority, while limited by the state constitution and judicial interpretations, sets out the ways in which local governments can meet the priorities of their citizens.

Local governments are empowered to make policy decisions that support the well-being of families and the foundation of the economy. Cities, towns, villages and counties may provide many services, including utilities such as water and sewer services as well as jails, police and sheriffs; ambulance services and county hospitals; fire protection; cemeteries and courtroom space.

Local governments also share with the state responsibility for education, health and human services and community economic development. For example, counties must supplement state funding of public school operations and may offer supplements to the state salaries paid to teachers or fund additional staff to support student success. In the area of health and human services, local governments have funded administrative costs and services in the face of state reductions and federal sequestration.

Basics of Local Government

What are the functions of cities and counties in NC?

How are local governments organized? Who has authority?

How do local governments interact?

How do policy priorities get implemented?

Local Budget Process

How does state law impact the ability of local governments to raise funds?

What is the local budget process?