« PreviousContinue »
The Mid-Willamette Council has given rise to numerous cooperative activities among its members, including joint purchasing for Marion County, the metropolitan school district, and the City of Salem; a coordinated 6-year capital improvements program for Salem, the two counties, and the school district; and a regional sewage collection and disposal program by agreement between Salem and the two counties. 10
The strengths and weaknesses of metropolitan councils are similar in many ways to those of intergovernmental agreements. The councils are useful for broadening the geographical base for discussion, research, and planning; they have flexibility for adjusting the boundaries of the area represented, even beyond State lines; they do not disturb the powers of existing governments and are therefore quite feasible politically; and they direct their attention to many governmental functions.
At the same time, the voluntary nature of the metropolitan council and its lack of governmental authority are distinct limitations on its ability to affect decisions on the difficult and controversial issues of areawide services and controls. The fundamental issues of allocating regional resources, establishing priorities, and handling conflicting interests of local communities require governmental institutions that can make decisions and enforce them on the basis of a majority vote.
The met ropolitan council can be useful, however, in laying the groundwork for the establishment of an effective decisionmaking mechanism. It can do this by developing, through research and debate, an area wide awareness of the problems needing areawide handling, and by developing consensus among governmental leaders on common needs and possible solutions. How effective the council actually will be in developing public awareness and a meaningful consensus will depend in large part on whether it brings out the full expression of conflicting views and full identification of various interests in the area, or whether the council serves to neutralize or obscure the real conflicts.
4. THE URBAN COUNTY
One of the most striking and promising governmental developments in metropolitan areas is the strengthening of county governments to enable them to deal with urban problems. Traditionally the county has been an administrative subdivision of the State for carrying on such State activities as elections, law enforcement, and judicial functions. The urban county approach to local government reorganization involves giving the county responsibility for a significant number of urban services throughout all or part of its jurisdiction. This development may result from piecemeal transfer of functions from municipalities or special districts; from the gradual enlargement of rural county responsibilities to encompass urban functions in unincorporated urban areas; or from State legislation simultaneously granting a number of functional powers to counties in metropolitan
The growth and spread of urban development has steadily increased the number of counties that are urban in character. In 1950 there
10 Rex Hartley. "A Voluntary Approach to Intergovernment Cooperation.” Proceedings of the American Municipal Congress, Intergovernment Cooperation, Seattle, Wash., Aug. 26–30, 1961 (Washington, D.C. : American Municipal Association, 1961), pp. 72–79.
were 174 counties with more than 100,000 population in metropolitan areas; by 1960 this number had grown to 217. In addition, in 1960 there were 46 counties over 100,000 outside of metropolitan areas, making a total of 263 urban counties. The urbanization of counties has atfected their organization, administration, and functions, although in greatly varying degrees. Seven counties now have elected executives. A 1953 survey indicated that 10 counties had county managers. A similar survey in 1962 indicated that 45 out of 129 counties responding had appointed chief administrative officers. In the 1962 survey, the urban counties reported that they provided varying numbers and kinds of services to unincorporated areas. The most common services were police protection, street construction, libraries, and parks and recreation. There were county zoning ordinances in 104 of 221 urban counties reporting in 1962, and county subdivision regulations in 135. Many of the largest counties, however, had neither zoning nor subdivision controls.11
The reorganization of county government to keep pace with urbanization is hindered considerably by State constitutional restrictions that prevent counties from providing urban services and raising revenues to finance them.12 States vary with respect to the straitjacket they have placed on their counties. The most liberal toward their counties have county home rule provisions in their constitutions, statutory authorization of optional county charters, or general statutory grants to counties to perform new functions and reorganize their structure. Thirteen States have constitutional home rule for their counties: California, Maryland, Ohio, Texas (counties over 62,000 population), Missouri (counties over 85,000), Louisiana (for East Baton Rouge and Jefferson Parishes only), Washington, Florida (for Dade County only), Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Alaska (for boroughs), and Hawaii. Six States have laws authorizing optional county charters: Virginia, Montana, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Oregon. California has been outstanding in granting counties structural flexibility through general statutes. But even where States have liberalized their provisions on county organization and functions, communities have not always made full use of their powers. 13
Dade County, Fla., and the California counties are illustrative of counties with extensive urban functions. They also represent two extremes of urban county approaches: the assumption of certain urban functions by the county practically overnight in Dade County, and the gradual assumption of functions through intergovernmental agreements over a long period in California. Dade County is additionally interesting as a two-tier government in a met ropolitan area, which has led some to consider it a "federation" approach to reorganization of Jocal governments in metropolitan areas.
11 Victor Jones. "t'rban and Metropolitan Counties," Municipal Year Book 1962 (Chicago : International City Managers' Association, 1962), pp. 57-66. For earlier summaries of urban county trends, see Betty Tableman, Governmental Organization in Metropolitan Areas (Michigan Government Studies No. 21 ; Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press : 1951), pp. 24–55; and Victor Jones, "Urban Counties," Municipal Ỳear Book 1954 (Chicago : International City Managers' Association, 1954), pp. 133–147.
13 William N. Cassella, Jr.. Metropolitan Government, vol. II of Constitutional Aspects of State-Local Relationships (Con-Con Research Paper No. 5) (Lansing, Mich.: Citizens Research Council of Michigan. 1961). p. 4.
13 Arthur W. Bromage, Municipal and County Home Rule, vol. I of Constitutional Aspecto of State-Local Relationships (Con-Con Research Paper No. 3) (Lansing, Mich.: Citizens Research Council of Michigan, 1961), pp. 16-22.
Though Dade County, Fla., is one of many counties with a home rule charter, it is unique in the manner in which the charter spells out the relationship between the county and the existing units of government, and in the degree to which the county is given power to exercise countywide functions. Dade County was given the power to draft a county charter by a constitutional amendment adopted by the voters of Florida in November 1956. The amendment required the retention of the county commission and a few other elective officers, but gave citizens of the county broad latitude to reorganize the county government, transfer functions to it from municipalities, and alter the boundaries of local governments. A charter was prepared pursuant to the 1956 constitutional amendment and was approved by the voters in May 1957.
It provides for a council-manager form of government, with the board of commissioners responsible for legislation, and for appointment and control of a county manager and a county attorney. The board consists of 11 members, 5 elected at large, 5 elected by districts, and 1 from the city of Miami. As other cities reach 100,000 population, they get a representative on the board.
The county government is given responsibility for countywide functions, such as expressways, air, water, rail, and bus terminal facilities, traffic control, air pollution control, assessments, fire and police protection, housing and urban renewal, building and zoning codes, and the construction of integrated water, sanitary sewerage, and surface drainage systems. Municipalities retain self-determination in local maters not ceded to the county under the charter, but the county board is authorized to take over a function from a municipality if it fails to meet minimum performance standards set by the county. Several functions are conducted in conjunction with the municipalities, and the county may also contract to perform a function for a municipality. Any municipality may request the county to take over a function upon approval of two-thirds of its governing body. The county also has some limited powers in the establishment of new municipalities and changes in boundaries of existing ones.14
Where the boundaries of a county approximate the boundaries of a metropolitan area, which is the case in more than half the metropolitan areas in the country (primarily the smaller ones), the transformation of the county into a unit of urban government can mean the provision of area wide services without any basic changes in geographical jurisdictions of existing units. It thus provides better control over area wide problems and a better relationship between taxes and benefits at the same time that local responsibility for nonareawide services is preserved. The urban county makes available economies of larger scale administration. Consolidation of functions can result in the elimination of duplication where the county and the municipalities are providing similar services, such as police and sheriff, or conducting various public welfare activities.
14 See Mark B. Feldman and Everett L. Jassy, "The Urban County: A Study of New Approaches to Local Government in Metropolitan Areas." Harvard Law Review, LXXVII (January 1960), pp. 526-582 ; Government Affairs Foundation, Inc., Metropolitan Surveys: A Digest (Chicago : Public Administration Service, 1958), pp. 59-63 ; Winston W. Crouch, "Federated Local Government: One Approach to Metropolitan Organization," Metropolitan California, The Governor's Commission on Metropolitan Area Problems (Sacramento, 1961), pp. 99-100.
The use of an existing government rather than the creation of a new one gives the urban county approach high political feasibility. Where the urban county evolves on a function-by-function, piecemeal basis, political feasibility is even greater.
A principal weakness of the urban county approach to handling problems of an area wide nature is its limited value in almost half the metropolitan areas (including virtually all the large ones) that cover more than one county. When urban problems spread beyond a single county, the inflexibility of the boundaries is a handicap to effective use of the urban county approach.
Another weakness is that counties as a class of governmental units probably have been the most backward in organization and administration, as a result of the diffusion of policymaking and administrative authority among a number of independently elected officials. Often the unintegrated organization is due to the lack of constitutional or statutory authority to reorganize. Although there has been some tendency to give counties more such authority, counties remain the most constitutionally shackled level of government in the United States.
5. TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS TO STATE GOVERNMENT This approach to governmental reorganization involves the transfer and direct performance of an urban function by an executive agency of the State government for communities in the metropolitan area. It differs from the metropolitan special district, which is established by State legislation but is locally financed and usually controlled by a governing body selected by the electorate or local governments of the metropolitan area. Functions that are transferred to the State are typically shared by the State and local governments, with each responsible for a different part of the operation. The State may undertake, for example, to provide water supply and major trunklines, and leave local distribution systems to the localities. Uusually the transfer of a function to the State involves a shift in the relative responsibility of the State and local communities for functions that they have previously shared on some other basis, rather than State assumption of the function for the first time.
The direct performance of an urban function by a State government in order to meet a metropolitan need has developed primarily in those situations where (1) the State government is the only agency that can summon the resources required to perform the function, (2) the activity cannot be handled within the boundaries of the metropolitan area itself, (3) the activity requires, as a matter of State policy, a minimum level of performance throughout the State that is not likely to be met by the jurisdictions or metropolitan areas independently, or (4) when the activity, if not performed, will result in problems that will seriously affect other parts of the State.15
The clustering of metropolitan areas in the Northeastern States and southern California has created special difficulties in dealing with metropolitan problems within the confines of one metropolitan area. The heavy interflow of people and goods between adjoining metropolitan areas has led the States to assume more than the usual responsibility for highway planning and construction, traffic control, mass transit and air pollution control in these areas. Moreover, the States have extended their responsibilities for the provision of such services as inspection of food, environmental sanitation, and the control of crime in the undeveloped enclaves between the urban centers of these metropolitan clusters.
15 There is a paucity of published material on transfers of metropolitan functions to the States. This account relles heavily on comments by Charlton F. Chute in U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Government Operations, Government in Metropolitan Areas, Commentaries on a Report by the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (Washington, December, 1961), pp. 65–71
In southern California, after individual metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles and San Diego, had developed all their available local water resources, the State undertook a statewide water plan to meet the growing metropolitan needs as well as other needs in Hood control, agriculture, and recreation. Similarly, New Jersey has come to the assistance of groups of metropolitan areas in the northern and southern parts of the State with planning and acquisition of land to assure them of adequate water supply, while also providing additional recreational facilities.
Transfer of metropolitan functions to the State government substantially broadens the geographical base for planning and control of area wide problems. It permits economies of scale and the avoidance of duplication. It has a relatively high degree of political feasibility because it creates little disturbance of the local political power structure and does not require approval by local referenda. If the State's performance of the function is dictated by statewide rather than metropolitan considerations alone—as in the case of protecting water resources for communities outside metropolitan areas-support in the legislature may be statewide, and may even be stimulated by nonmetropolitan areas. Transfer to the State may appeal to local officials as a way of taking the financing of a function off the local tax bill.
The transfer of metropolitan functions to the States is particularly adaptable to States where the metropolitan areas make up a substantial part of the total State, or where the State itself is small. It is also especially adaptable, and sometimes necessary, for the effective handling of functions involving the conservation of scarce natural resources, such as water supply, open lands, and the control of water and air pollution. Compared with continued performance of a function by municipalities, State performance also has the advantage of greater flexibility in keeping pace with the constantly changing geographic area over which the function needs to be performed.
From the point of view of local government, the transfer of functions to the States has the weakness of taking away a portion of local responsibility and authority. It tends to diminsh the stature of local governments as general-purpose governments, with a consequent diminition of their viability, their ability to coordinate the provision of governmental services, and their strength as a focus for local interest and participation in government. Removing control to the State government tends to expose decisions on metropolitan matters to the disinterest, if not the opposition, of representatives from nonmetropolitan areas.