|Category||Second-level administrative division|
|Location||Commonwealth of Pennsylvania|
Under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a township is the lowest level of municipal incorporation of government. All of Pennsylvania's communities outside of incorporated cities, boroughs, and one town has been incorporated into a township which serves as the legal entity providing local self-government functions. In general, townships in Pennsylvania encompass larger land areas than other municipalities, and tend to be located in suburban, exurban, or rural parts of the commonwealth. As with other incorporated municipalities in Pennsylvania, townships exist within counties and are subordinate to or dependent upon the county level of government.
The creation of townships within Pennsylvania dates to the seventeenth century and the colonial period. Much of the province of Pennsylvania was occupied by Native Americans, but the colonial administration in Philadelphia brought new counties and new settlements regularly. The first communities defined by this government tended to be rural, geographically large (nearly county-sized), and sparsely populated townships.
Historically, townships or portions thereof have tended to become boroughs after population growth or an increase in population density and, eventually, might to reincorporate at the level of city. Initially, each municipal organization begins as a second-class township. When a sufficient population density, currently 300 people per square mile, is attained, the township may hold a referendum and, if it passes, become a first-class township. The municipality could proceed to the level of borough or city in a similar fashion. Historically, this progression has often included border adjustments or mergers with other boroughs or townships. Many communities remain townships in spite of growth that brings the characteristics of more-urbanized areas that might be associated with "towns."
Because Pennsylvania's constitution provides for a progression of municipal structures based on population growth, it is not uncommon to have a township and borough of the same or similar name, generally adjacent within the same county. The 'town-like' borough might be partially or wholly surrounded by the remaining township from which it had split off.
The government of Cold Spring Township ceased to function in 1961, when there were no candidates for office.
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Pennsylvania townships typically vary in size from 6 to 40 square miles (16–104 km2). There are two classifications of townships, first class and second class. The commonwealth initially incorporates all townships as second class townships. To become a township of the first class and operate under the powers of the First Class Township Code, a township must have a population density of 300 inhabitants per square mile (120/km2) and voters therein must approve the change of classification in a referendum.
The classes of townships differ primarily in the form of their administration. Townships of the second class are governed by a board of supervisors, elected at large by the electorate of the whole township for overlapping 6 year terms. The number of supervisors can be increased to five by referendum. Townships of the first class, by contrast, have a board of commissioners. Between five and fifteen commissioners sit on this panel; they can be elected either at large or by wards within the township; and they serve for overlapping terms of four years in office. Other elected officials include a tax collector and, in many townships, a panel of three auditors who annually audit all township accounts. The supervisors or commissioners of the township appoint a secretary and a treasurer, and may also appoint a township manager to coordinate township employees and operations.
County governments may provide some or all municipal services to residents of townships, regardless of class and size, including trash collection or sewage processing. Some counties, though, leave individual municipalities to provide their own services; in some instances small groups of boroughs or townships may pool their resources to provide water, police, or other functions. The main areas of local services include police and fire protection, maintenance of local roads and streets, water supply, sewage collection and treatment, parking and traffic control, local planning and zoning, parks and recreation, garbage collection, health services, libraries, licensing of businesses and code enforcement. All municipalities in Pennsylvania, however, rely on county and state organized courts for probate, criminal, and civil court services.
Under the Pennsylvania constitution, each governmental entity has the right to choose its own form of self-government, and a limited ability to delegate powers and oversight to such entities as authorities, commissions and school boards.Any township, regardless of its class, may adopt a home rule charter, at which point it is no longer governed by the Pennsylvania Township Codes. While a home rule charter can incorporate unusual features, standard municipal functions are generally part of the mix regardless of how offices and powers are allocated within the jurisdiction.
A county is a geographic region of a country used for administrative or other purposes in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French comté denoting a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of a count (earl) or a viscount. Literal equivalents in other languages, derived from the equivalent of "count", are now seldom used officially, including comté, contea, contado, comtat, condado, Grafschaft, graafschap, and zhupa in Slavic languages; terms equivalent to commune/community are now often instead used.
A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world.
In the United States, a county is an administrative or political subdivision of a state that consists of a geographic region with specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs, respectively. The specific governmental powers of counties vary widely between the states, with many providing some level of services to civil townships, municipalities, and unincorporated areas. Certain municipalities are in multiple counties; New York City is uniquely partitioned into five counties, referred to at the city government level as boroughs. Some municipalities have consolidated with their county government to form consolidated city-counties, or have been legally separated from counties altogether to form independent cities. Conversely, those counties in Connecticut, Rhode Island, eight of Massachusetts's 14 counties, and Alaska's Unorganized Borough have no government power, existing only as geographic distinctions.
In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town. Worldwide, there is a wide variance in local laws and customs regarding the powers and responsibilities of a mayor as well as the means by which a mayor is elected or otherwise mandated. Depending on the system chosen, a mayor may be the chief executive officer of the municipal government, may simply chair a multi-member governing body with little or no independent power, or may play a solely ceremonial role. A mayor's duties and responsibilities may be to appoint and oversee municipal managers and employees, provide basic governmental services to constituents, and execute the laws and ordinances passed by a municipal governing body. Options for selection of a mayor include direct election by the public, or selection by an elected governing council or board.
A minor civil division (MCD) is a term used by the United States Census Bureau for primary governmental and/or administrative divisions of a county or county-equivalent, typically a municipal government such as a city, town, or civil township. MCDs are used for statistical purposes by the Census Bureau, and do not necessarily represent the primary form of local government. They range from non-governing geographical survey areas to municipalities with weak or strong powers of self-government. Some states with large unincorporated areas give substantial powers to counties; others have smaller or larger incorporated entities with governmental powers that are smaller than the MCD level chosen by the Census.
A civil township is a widely used unit of local government in the United States that is subordinate to a county, most often in the northern and midwestern parts of the country. The term town is used in New England, New York, and Wisconsin to refer to the equivalent of the civil township in these states; Minnesota uses "town" officially but often uses it and "township" interchangeably. Specific responsibilities and the degree of autonomy vary based on each state. Civil townships are distinct from survey townships, but in states that have both, the boundaries often coincide and may completely geographically subdivide a county. The U.S. Census Bureau classifies civil townships as minor civil divisions. Currently, there are 20 states with civil townships.
The administrative divisions of New York are the various units of government that provide local services in the State of New York. The state is divided into boroughs, counties, cities, townships called "towns", and villages. They are municipal corporations, chartered (created) by the New York State Legislature, as under the New York Constitution the only body that can create governmental units is the state. All of them have their own governments, sometimes with no paid employees, that provide local services. Centers of population that are not incorporated and have no government or local services are designated hamlets. Whether a municipality is defined as a borough, city, town, or village is determined not by population or land area, but rather on the form of government selected by the residents and approved by the New York Legislature. Each type of local government is granted specific home rule powers by the New York State Constitution. There are still occasional changes as a village becomes a city, or a village dissolves, each of which requires legislative action. New York also has various corporate entities that provide local services and have their own administrative structures (governments), such as school and fire districts. These are not found in all counties. Except for its 10 Indian Reservations and the City of New York, every piece of land in the State is part of a city or town, which, with the exception of the city of Geneva, is part of one and only one county. Not every piece is in a village or city. A village is part of a town; cities are not part of towns, but have the powers of towns. A village can be a part of more than one town. A village cannot be part of a city.
A township, in the context of New Jersey local government, refers to one of five types and one of eleven forms of municipal government. As a political entity, a township in New Jersey is a full-fledged municipality, on par with any town, city, borough, or village. They collect property taxes and provide services such as maintaining roads, garbage collection, water, sewer, schools, police and fire protection. The Township form of local government is used by 27% of New Jersey municipalities; however, slightly over 50% of the state's population resides within them.
Local government in the United States refers to governmental jurisdictions below the level of the state. Most states and territories have at least two tiers of local government: counties and municipalities. Louisiana uses the term parish and Alaska uses the term borough for what the U.S. Census Bureau terms county equivalents in those states. Civil townships or towns are used as subdivisions of a county in 20 states, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.
The Optional Municipal Charter Law or Faulkner Act provides New Jersey municipalities with a variety of models of local government. This legislation is called the Faulkner Act in honor of the late Bayard H. Faulkner, former mayor of Montclair, New Jersey and chairman of the Commission on Municipal Government.
A borough in some U.S. states is a unit of local government or other administrative division below the level of the state. The term is currently used in six states:
A municipal council is the legislative body of a municipality or local government area. Depending on the location and classification of the municipality it may be known as a city council,town council, town board, community council, rural council,village council, or board of aldermen.
In the U.S. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a borough is a self-governing municipal entity, equivalent to a town in most jurisdictions, usually smaller than a city, but with a similar population density in its residential areas. Sometimes thought of as "junior cities", boroughs generally have fewer powers and responsibilities than full-fledged cities.
The administrative divisions of Virginia are the areas into which the Commonwealth of Virginia, a U.S. state, is divided for political and administrative purposes. Some are local governments; others are not. However, all local governments are political subdivisions of the state.
In the United States, the meaning of village varies by geographic area and legal jurisdiction. In many areas, "village" is a term, sometimes informal, for a type of administrative division at the local government level. Since the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from legislating on local government, the states are free to have political subdivisions called "villages" or not to and to define the word in many ways. Typically, a village is a type of municipality, although it can also be a special district or an unincorporated area. It may or may not be recognized for governmental purposes.
Local government in New Jersey is composed of counties and municipalities. Local jurisdictions in New Jersey differ from those in some other states because every square foot of the state is part of exactly one municipality; each of the 564 municipalities is in exactly one county; and each of the 21 counties has more than one municipality. New Jersey has no independent cities, or consolidated city-counties.
Local government in Pennsylvania is government below the state level in Pennsylvania. There are six types of local governments listed in the Pennsylvania Constitution: county, township, borough, town, city, and school district. All of Pennsylvania is included in one of the state's 67 counties, which are in total subdivided into 2,560 municipalities. There are currently no independent cities or unincorporated territories within Pennsylvania. There is only one incorporated town in Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg, but it is effectively a borough as it is governed under the same set of laws.
City limits or city boundaries refer to the defined boundary or border of a city. The area within the city limit can be called the city proper. Town limit/boundary and village limit/boundary apply to towns and villages. Similarly, corporate limit is a legal name that refers to the boundary of municipal corporations. In some countries, the limit of a municipality may be expanded through annexation.
A clerk is a senior official of many municipal governments in the English-speaking world. In some communities, including most in the United States, the position is elected, but in many others, the clerk is appointed to their post. In the UK, a Town or Parish clerk is appointed by the Town or Parish Council Members. In almost all cases, the actual title of the clerk reflects the type of municipality they work for, thus, instead of simply being known as the clerk, the position is generally referred to as the town clerk, township clerk, city clerk, village clerk, borough clerk, board secretary, or county clerk. Other titles also exist, such as recorder. The office has existed for centuries, though in some places it is now being merged with other positions.
The administrative divisions of Ohio are counties, municipalities, townships, special districts, and school districts.
The eleven elected county officers are enumerated in the Pennsylvania Constitution, but their powers and duties are prescribed by statutes located throughout the county codes and general state laws. Consolidation of certain offices in smaller counties involves the offices of prothonotary, clerk of courts, register of wills and recorder of deeds.
The original reason for establishing authorities was the restriction on incurring municipal debt imposed by the Commonwealth prior to the 1968 constitutional amendments, but they have proven useful mechanisms, particularly for joint municipal projects. As of January 2010, there were 1,539 active authorities in Pennsylvania.
For a survey article on the powers and organization of Pennsylvania government, see Citizen's Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government, 2010.