Featured Collection

Sizing Up Local Government

The number of local governments increased between 2007 and 2012, following a 40-year trend, according to the U.S. Census of Governments, which conducts a five-year count of every unit of government. Within the trend, however, were symptoms of the Great Recession: School districts and towns consolidated while special district governments took over functions that municipal governments can no longer afford.

Explore the trends and find out how many governments operate in your community and state with interactive graphics, and read the debate about the right size of local government.

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September 30, 2013

Local Governments Rose Slightly During Recession

The total number of governments has increased, according to the U.S. Census of Governments. Debates about the right size of government raged during the Great Recession as shrinking revenues squeezed budgets. More
October 1, 2013

Communities Cling to Local Schools Despite State Incentives

Governors pushed school consolidation at the start of the recession but the number of school districts barely budged. More
  • Stateline Story
October 2, 2013

Cash-Strapped Governments Turn to Special Districts

The country’s 38,266 special districts make up more than 40 percent of all local governments, and operate with significant autonomy performing services ranging from cemetery maintenance and mosquito abatement to fire protection. More

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