|How It Works: The Local Level|
|Key Local Staff|
How It Works:
The Local Level
Grantmakers who provide local funding and leadership may want to engage with local government policymakers. Local government provides a breadth of services and regulatory functions that are connected to grantmaker interests and funding initiatives. Regardless of which organizations a foundation funds, local governments can enact laws and regulations that affect the way local grantees function.
Local governments are comprised of counties, cities (which includes towns), and special districts. School districts have aspects of both local and state government.
Generally, local governments have three main branches of government, similar to their state and federal counterparts: legislative (city councils and boards of supervisors), executive (mayors and their department heads and local agencies), and judicial (local courts).
An important difference to note is that most mayors do not have executive functions and counties do not have elected executive officials (unless you count the district attorney and sheriff or, in some cases, the treasurer and tax collector). Also, local courts are now a state responsibility.
California elects over 15,000 officials to serve in over 5,000 local government agencies:58 counties
35 councils of government
over 5,000 special districts
over 1,000 school districts
Cities and Counties are often responsible for governmental functions not performed by the state or federal governments, however, some of the policymaking can overlap. Local government functions include social and other services for the general well-being of the citizenry such as water, police, fire, sanitation, public works, schools, and libraries.
Counties are geographical and political subdivisions of the state and administer state and federal laws and programs. The board of supervisors, along with other elected officials such as district attorneys, sheriffs and treasurers, are responsible for all county services and programs such as voter registration, health and welfare programs, law enforcement operations, the recording of official documents, including vital statistics and real property transactions, tax assessment and collection, and social services. The board of supervisors is also responsible for providing some municipal-type services for residents of unincorporated areas such as planning, zoning and land-use regulation, street maintenance, and in some cases sewage disposal, water, parks and recreational facilities and other municipal services.
The largest source of county funding comes from the state government. Other revenue sources include property taxes, federal government, and service charges.
City governments are limited in their ability to set public policy. Local legislation cannot conflict with state law, however, cities and counties have police power (power to protect public health, safety and welfare) as well as public utilities powers under the state constitution. Sometimes, state ballot measures negatively affect both city and county revenue raising prerogatives. For example, Proposition 13, which was passed in 1978, severely limits cities' ability to raise revenue from property taxes.