General law local government

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General law or statutory local governments are counties and municipalities that do not have their own charter. Many states have restrictions based on population or form of government for which local governments can adopt a charter. Some states have no provision for chartered local government whatsoever. Counties and municipalities that do not qualify to have a charter or do not choose to have one are governed under the state constitutional provisions and state statutes of the particular state that lay out the fundamental governance doctrine for such local governments.

In general, when a state contains general law and chartered local governments the general law local governments have less local autonomy and Home rule than do the chartered local governments in the same state. However, the lack of a charter does not always signify the lack of home rule authority. Several states grant some degree of home rule to local governments organized under the general law.[1]

  • 17 states do not allow county charters.
  • 5 states do not allow municipal charters.


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Charter counties by state
State Total Counties Total Charter Counties % of Charter Counties
Alabama 67 0 0.00%
Alaska 18 10 55.56%
Arizona 15 0 0.00%
Arkansas 75 0 0.00%
California 57 14 24.56%
Colorado 62 2 3.23%
Connecticut 0 0 0.00%
Delaware 3 0 0.00%
Florida 66 20 30.30%
Georgia 159 7 4.40%1
Hawaii 4 4 100.00%
Idaho 44 0 0.00%
Illinois 102 0 0.00%
Indiana 91 0 0.00%
Iowa 99 0 0.00%
Kansas 103 103 100%2
Kentucky 120 1 0.83%
Louisiana 64 23 35.94%
Maine 16 3 18.75%
Maryland 23 9 39.13%3
Massachusetts 5 1 20.00%
Michigan 83 2 2.41%
Minnesota 87 1 1.15%
Mississippi 82 0 0.00%
Missouri 114 4 3.51%
Montana 54 3 5.56%
Nebraska 93 0 0.00%
Nevada 16 0 0.00%
New Hampshire 10 0 0.00%
New Jersey 21 0 0.00%
New Mexico 33 1 3.03%4
New York 57 19 33.33%
North Carolina 100 0 0.00%
North Dakota 53 8 15.09%
Ohio 88 2 2.27%
Oklahoma 77 0 0.00%
Oregon 36 9 25.00%
Pennsylvania 67 7 10.45%
Rhode Island 0 0 0.00%
South Carolina 46 0 0.00%
South Dakota 66 2 3.03%
Tennessee 92 2 2.17%
Texas 254 0 0.00%
Utah 29 0 0.00%
Vermont 14 0 0.00%
Virginia 95 3 3.16%
Washington 39 6 15.38%
West Virginia 55 0 0.00%
Wisconsin 72 0 0.00%
Wyoming 23 0 0.00%
1Georgia: permits a county charter only as a consolidated government (county-city or county-unincorporated community).
2Kansas: all counties are able to enact charter resolutions making every county, in effect, a charter county.
3Maryland: 9 counties have charters, another 6 are organized under state law so as to have home rule.
4New Mexico: permits a county charter only as a consolidated government, like the county-city of Los Alamos.

  • Alaska for first class cities
  • Arizona for municipalities with a population of 3500 or greater
  • Arkansas for municipalities with a population of 500 or greater
  • California for all municipalities
  • Colorado for municipalities with a population of 2000 or greater
  • Connecticut for all municipalities
  • Delaware for municipalities with a population of 1000 or greater
  • Florida for municipalities with a population of 1500 or greater in counties of less than 75,000; and 5000 or greater in counties with greater than 75,000
  • Georgia all municipalities are governed under a charter
  • Iowa for all municipalities
  • Kansas all cities are able to enact charter ordinances making every city, in effect, a charter city.
  • Louisiana for all municipalities
  • Maine for all municipalities
  • Maryland all municipalities are governed under a charter
  • Massachusetts for all municipalities
  • Michigan for all municipalities
  • Minnesota for all municipalities
  • Mississippi for all municipalities
  • Missouri for municipalities with a population of 5,000 or greater
  • Montana for all municipalities
  • Nebraska for municipalities with a population of 5,000 or greater
  • Nevada for all municipalities
  • New Hampshire for all municipalities
  • New Jersey for all municipalities
  • New Mexico for municipalities with a population of 300 or greater
  • New York only for municipalities that have the structure of a city (no population requirement)
  • North Carolina all municipalities are governed under a charter
  • North Dakota for municipalities with a population of 100 or greater
  • Ohio for all municipalities
  • Oklahoma for municipalities with a population of 2,000 or greater
  • Oregon for all municipalities
  • Pennsylvania for all municipalities
  • Rhode Island all municipalities are governed under a charter
  • South Carolina for all municipalities
  • South Dakota for all municipalities
  • Tennessee for all municipalities
  • Texas for municipalities with a population of 5,000 or greater
  • Utah for all municipalities
  • Vermont for all municipalities
  • Virginia all municipalities are governed under a charter
  • Washington for all municipalities
  • West Virginia for municipalities with a population of 2,000 or greater
  • Wisconsin all cities and villages are able to enact charter ordinances making each, in effect, a charter city or village.
  • Wyoming all cities and towns are able to enact charter ordinances making each, in effect, a charter city or town.

Charter cities by state
State Total Cities Total Charter Cities % of Charter Cities
Alabama 460 0 0.00%
Alaska 145 11 7.59%
Arizona 91 19 20.88%
Arkansas 501 0 0.00%
California 482 121 25.10%
Colorado 271 99 36.53%
Connecticut 179 104 58.10%
Delaware 57 55 96.49%
Florida 410 410 100.00%
Georgia 535 535 100.00%
Hawaii 0 0 0.00%
Idaho 200 1 0.50%1
Illinois 1298 34 2.62%2
Indiana 569 0 0.00%
Iowa 947 5 0.53%
Kansas 626 626 100.00%3
Kentucky 418 0 0.00%
Louisiana 303 31 10.23%
Maine 488 75 15.37%
Maryland 157 157 100.00%
Massachusetts 351 150 42.74%4
Michigan 533 323 60.60%
Minnesota 854 107 12.53%
Mississippi 297 20 6.73%
Missouri 955 44 4.61%5
Montana 129 32 24.81%
Nebraska 530 2 0.38%
Nevada 19 12 63.16%
New Hampshire 234 13 5.56%
New Jersey 566 11 1.94%
New Mexico 103 12 11.65%
New York 1550 62 4.00%
North Carolina 553 553 100.00%
North Dakota 357 130 36.41%
Ohio 936 234 25.00%
Oklahoma 594 86 14.48%
Oregon 241 111 46.06%
Pennsylvania 2561 65 2.54%
Rhode Island 39 39 100.00%
South Carolina 270 0 0.00%
South Dakota 310 10 3.23%
Tennessee 345 229 66.38%
Texas 1214 352 29.00%
Utah 245 1 0.41%
Vermont 282 68 24.11%
Virginia 229 229 100.00%
Washington 281 11 3.91%
West Virginia 232 108 46.55%
Wisconsin 595 1 0.17%6
Wyoming 99 7 7.07%7
1Idaho: does not permit charter adoption, Bellevue continues to be governed under a territorial charter.
2Illinois: does not permit charter adoption, 34 small villages and towns still hold charters from the 1800's. Although they lack a charter, 209 cities have home rule powers.
3Kansas: all cities are able to enact charter ordinances making every city, in effect, a charter city.
4Massachusetts: this includes 90 cities and towns with home rule charters and 60 with special act charters.
5Missouri: this includes 38 home rule charters and 6 special legislative charters
6Wisconsin: Milwaukee is the only city with a private act charter, but all cities and villages are able to enact charter ordinances making each, in effect, a charter city or village.
7Wyoming: all cities and towns are able to enact charter ordinances making each, in effect, a charter city or town. 7 cities have exercised this power to adopt a charter ordinance

States that only allow general law counties

1Alabama: no county has a charter, but Shelby and Baldwin county have been granted home rule status by special act of the state legislature.
2Georgia: except for consolidated governments (county-city or county-unincorporated community).
3New Mexico: except for consolidated governments, like the county-city of Los Alamos.
4South Carolina: except for consolidated governments, none currently exist.


States that only allow general law municipalities

1Idaho: does not permit charter adoption, Bellevue continues to be governed under a territorial charter.
2Illinois: does not permit charter adoption, 34 small villages and towns still hold charters from the 1800's. Although they lack a charter, 209 cities have home rule powers.



References

See also