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by general legislation. This approach would provide flexibility to make adjustments as changing conditions warrant and would encourage initiative by local governments.

Although thus supporting the principle of maximum flexibility and freedom of action for local government the Commission also believes that the historical concept of home rule must be subject to certain limitations within metropolitan areas. The Commission recommends that when States consider general constitutional revision or undertake constitutional changes affecting local home rule, they should reserve sufficient authority to enable State legislative action to modify the responsibilities of local governments within metropolitan areas and the relationships among these governments.

Because of the rapidly changing needs for government services in metropolitan areas as well as changes in the ways of providing these services—the State should be in a position to furnish leadership, stimulation, and appropriate supervision to metropolitan areas. This is especially important where a metropolitan area covers more than one county, because in such a situation there is no authority short of the State that can be brought to bear upon the area as a whole. Constitutional provisions that give municipalities home rule and prohibit State intervention in particular functions may handcuff the State when its help is needed. For example, if water supply and sewage disposal are among the municipal functions enumerated in a constitutional home rule provision, the State will be powerless in attempting to exert any authority to institute an areawide approach to water supply or sewage disposal.



The States should examine critically their present constitutional and statutory provisions governing annexation of territory to municipalities. Where there are provisions that now interfere with the orderly and equitable extension of municipal boundaries to take in unincorporated territory in which urban development is imminent or underway, these provisions should be eliminated or amended, at least with regard to metropolitan areas. As a minimum, authority to initiate annexation proceedings should not rest solely with the residents of an area who want to be annexed, but should also be available to city governing bodies. There is also merit in the principle that the residents of a minor outlying unincorporated area should not have absolute veto power to prevent a proposed annexation that meets appropriate standards of equity.

The concept of home rule should be modified to minimize the ability of local governments or residents of small areas to block the orderly development of governmental structure and services in metropolitan areas. Liberalized annexation laws are an important and fruitful possibility for State government to provide as a way of facilitating metropolitan area development. It is not feasible, however, to turn back the clock and use annexation to try to absorb units of government that are already established. The principal application of liberalized annexa

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tion laws will be in unincorporated territory. This approach will not alleviate situations in which a city is already ringed by suburban governments, but it should facilitate the orderly growth of newer urban centers.

The question of municipal boundary extension should be a matter of statewide policy rather than entirely a matter of local self-determination. Several States have adopted legislation to facilitate annextion, and their approaches may serve as appropriate models elsewhere. In North Carolina, for example, legislation enacted in 1959 established specific standards under which municipalities above a certain size may proceed unilaterally by ordinance to annex contiguous unincorporated territory. The area to be annexed must meet certain criteria of population density and other measures to establish its urban character. Within a specified time, the municipality must extend public services to the annexed area on a basis comparable to that prevailing in the rest of the municipality. The entire procedure is subject to judicial review to insure that statutory standards have been met.


The States should enact legislation providing rigorous statutory standards for the establishment of new municipal incorporations within metropolitan areas and providing for administrative review and approval of proposed incorporations by an appropriate agency of State government.”

A necessary corollary of the liberalized annexation procedures proposed above is more effective control of new incorporations. Municipal incorporations are undertaken for a wide variety of purposes, including many dubious ones. The Minnesota Commission on Municipal Annexation and Consolidation, in its 1959 report, cited examples of the incorporation of villages solely to preempt the tax base created by a new industry, and incorporation for the sole purpose of providing a liquor license for the sponsors. Elsewhere, communities have incorporated to avoid zoning or gambling laws or to forestall annexation.

The State has the power to halt the chaotic spread of small municipalities within metropolitan areas. The States should tighten up the standards and criteria for new incorporations. Standards generally should specify minimums of total population and population density, with higher standards required within a designated distance of larger cities. State review of incorporation should insure that statutory standards are met and that the incorporation will assist the orderly development of local government within metropolitan areas. Another approach is to assign the review responsibility to an agency at the county level representing local governments. Such an agency would apply standards similar to those used by a State agency.



The States should consider enacting legislation authorizing local governments within metropolitan areas to establish, in accordance

See “Municipal Incorporations," ACIR 1966 State Legislative Program (Washington, D.C.: October 1965), pp. 153–162.

with statutory requirements, metropolitan service corporations or authorities for the performance of governmental services that can best be handled on an area wide basis. These corporations should have appropriate borrowing and taxing power, but their initial establishment and any subsequent broadening of responsibilities should be subject to voter approval on the basis of an areawide majority:3

Many area wide authorities are now operating successfully in such fields as water supply, transportation, and port development. Despite the popularity and effectiveness of many of these agencies, they have been subject to several significant criticisms. They tend to foster a piecemeal approach to metropolitan services by singling out particular functions for independent handling, often without adequate coordination with governments responsible for related activities. They add to the number of local governments and the complexity of government structure. Since they are usually governed by a board of directors of private citizens appointed for staggered terms, they are somewhat removed from normal political channels of public control; to some critics, these authorities are "The Untouchables.”

To meet legitimate criticisms while retaining the advantages of areawide authorities, the Commission proposes State legislation similar to the metropolitan municipal corporation law adopted by the State of Washington in 1957. The authority should either be multifunctional or, if limited to a single function at the start, should be capable of absorbing additional responsibilities with the approval of a majority vote in the area served. If the residents of the area choose to limit the authority to a single function, they should be precluded from establishing separate authorities to perform other responsibilities on an area wide basis. The board of directors should consist of elected officials-mayors, city councilmen, county commissionersfrom the governments of the metropolitan area. The Commission thus proposes that the people of a metropolitan area should be authorized to establish a multipurpose functional authority or a singlepurpose functional authority, or neither, as they choose by area wide popular vote.



The States should authorize municipalities and counties in met ropolitan areas to take mutual action to transfer responsibility for specified services from one unit of government to the other.

The “urban county” approach is a very promising possibility for meeting problems created by the spread of service needs beyond municipal boundaries. County governments can be equipped to meet urban needs by a transfer of individual functions from local governments within the county or by a more thorough reorganization of the county government. Obstacles resulting from State limitation of county government organization and responsibility are formidable, however. County governments have been strengthened recently in Virginia, California, Tennessee, Florida, and other States. In the

3 See “Metropolitan Functional Authorities," ACIR 1966 State Legislative Program (Washington, D.C. : October 1965), pp. 126-151.

4 See "Voluntary Transfer of Functions Between Municipalities and Counties," ACIR 1966 State Legislative Program (Washington, D.C. : October 1965), pp. 407-410.

interest of political feasibility, the Commission proposes State authorization of a limited and gradual approach to permit voluntary transfers of functions. This approach could, of course, pave the way for more comprehensive measures in the future.


Intergovernmental agreements and contracts are the most widely used means of broadening the geographical base for handling common functions in metropolitan areas. The Commission has recommended that States authorize two or more units of government to exercise jointly or cooperatively any powers possessed by one or more of the governments concerned and to contract with one another for the provision of governmental services."

With changing demands for public services it may be desirable or necessary to administer services within geographic areas not coincident with the boundaries of existing political units. The approaches to changes in local governmental structure and authority identified above provide possible solutions. However, it may be only a single function, or a limited number of functions, and limited geographic areas involving only some of the units of government in a metropolitan area that call for special approaches. In such cases, interlocal agreements for joint enterprises or contracts for the provision of services frequently offer the most feasible and acceptable steps.


Unguided sprawl around the fringes of incorporated places may be regulated and municipal services may be provided or improved by the use of extraterritorial powers. Such powers are those which a city exercises outside its ordinary territorial limits to regulate activity, to assist in providing services to residents within its own border, or to furnish services to residents outside its borders.

States generally have granted powers to cities to go outside their borders to help in providing services to their residents. Interlocal agreements or contracts are a common method of providing services to residents outside the borders of a city or they may be made directly available on a fee basis. Such provision of services in fringe areas around incorporated cities can help to forestall premature action on incorporation and prepare the way for annexation if desirable.

Another important and less widely available power is the authority to regulate immediately adjoining areas when such regulation is not otherwise exercised within the area. The Commission has recommended that municipalities be authorized to exercise extraterritorial planning, zoning, and subdivision control over unincorporated areas not subject to effective county regulation. While this authority may have only limited potential for resolving basic intergovernmental problems, especially in built-up metropolitan areas, where it is applicable it can be most significant. It can serve to minimize substandard and unplanned development in unincorporated developing areas

See “Interlocal Contracting and Joint Enterprises," ACIR 1966 State Legislative Program (Washington, D.C.: October 1965), pp. 398-406.

• See "Extraterritorial Planning, Zoning, and Subdivision Regulation," ACIR 1966 State Legislatire Program (Washington, D.C. : October 1965), pp. 119–123.

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on the immediate fringes of existing cities, thus avoiding development which would make the areas a burden or unsuitable for later annexation.

8. COUNCILS OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS The Commission recommends the adoption of legislation by States authorizing the formation of metropolitan councils of public officials." These voluntary associations of elected public officials provide a forum for the consideration of common problems, and to development of coordinated approaches to solutions. They help to develop a consensus among public officials regarding metropolitan needs and serve to develop regional leadership. The councils are increasingly assigned additional functions—particularly planning responsibility.

Councils can be established on a strictly voluntary basis, pursuant to specific statutory authorization, or under general interlocal cooperation legislation.



Where legislative authority does not now exist, the States should authorize the establishment of metropolitan area commissions on local government structure and services, for the purpose of developing proposals for revising and improving local government structure and services within the area. The commissions should be created, optionally, by either mutual and concurrent action of the governing bodies of the local governments, or by initiative petition and election of the voters of the metropolitan area. There should be provisions to assure that the membership will be balanced so as to provide general equity of representation for the population groups and governments comprising the metropolitan area. Proposals developed by the commissions should become effective if they are approved at a special election held for this purpose.




The Commission has recommended enactment of State legislation authorizing the establishment of metropolitan area planning agencies representing the political subdivisions of the metropolitan area. The planning body should make advisory recommendations to local governments in the area concerning planned metropolitan development. It should also prepare areawide plans for land use and capital investment and should review proposed local zoning ordinances, building regulations, and major physical facility plans.

All States except Arizona, South Dakota, and Wyoming now have legislation authorizing some form of metropolitan planning. 10 This

See “Regional Councils of Public Officials,” ACIR 1966 State Legislative Program (Washington, D.C. : October 1965). pp. 291-296.

8 See Metropolitan Study Commissions" ACIR 1966 State Legislative Program (Washington, D.C.: October 1965), pp. 101-118.

See “Metropolitan Area Planning Commission," ACIR 1966 State Legislative Program (Washington, D.C.: October 1965), pp. 237-249.

10 U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations, Hearings, Intergovernmental Cooperation Act of 1965, 89th Cong., 1st sess., 1965, p. 288.

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