City governments are responsible for serving the needs of their citizens. States grant power to local governments and city officials work collaboratively with state and federal agencies on local issues. City officials commonly include city council members, mayors, city attorneys and city controllers. Citizens generally elect city officials to focus on city infrastructure, basic services and safety concerns.
City governments provide essential services to the citizens they serve. For example, utilities such as water and waste removal fall under city jurisdiction. Keeping water clean and maintaining sewer lines and ensuring that infrastructure is sound are key city services. Cities employ utility workers to respond to emergencies and other customer needs. Cities also engage in utility service planning for proposed construction and new building sites.
Encouraging local business growth is a key activity of city government. Increasing business enterprises encourages employment opportunities and helps reinvest tax revenue in a community. Cities may grant special loans and offer tax incentives to entice new businesses to open in a community. Cities often have strategic zoning plans to control where new businesses can be built. A city government might restrict new business development in residential areas.
City governments usually oversee public safety services. A mayor might serve as a leader in determining potential public safety concerns and work with law enforcement and community agencies to make changes. City government works hand-in-hand with the local law enforcement agencies to establish city ordinances, laws and policy changes that impact public safety. A neighborhood watch programs is an example of a proactive approach a city government may initiate to prevent crime.
Citizens often get involved in city government activities to help make decisions regarding quality living conditions. Some city governments have citizen advisory boards to engage community members in the democratic process. Advisory boards provide an opportunity for citizens to share opinions about needs and issues. Citizen input might be used in city planning activities and public policy decisions. City governments may also form public task forces to study an issue of concern and make recommendations for further action.
- White House: State & Local Government
- City of Los Angeles: Elected Official Offices
- Municipal Research and Services Center: Local Government Citizen Advisory Boards
- City of Duluth: Utility Responsibilities
- Sustainable City: Local Government’s Role in Retaining Capital for Community Economic Development
- U.S. Department of Justice: Effective Policing and Crime Prevention
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