Municipal governments provide services to residents, formulate and enforce local laws, make infrastructure capital improvements, and provide local planning. The US has about 36,000 municipal and township governments, 3,000 county governments, and 38,000 special purpose districts with combined annual revenue of about $1.8 trillion.
About 55% of the world's population lives in urban areas, and that number is expected to rise to 60% by 2030, according to the United Nations. More than 500 cities around the world have at least 1 million residents, and 45 cities have populations of more than 5 million. Cities with the largest populations include Tokyo, New Delhi, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, and Mumbai.
Forms of municipal government vary. In the US, most larger cities have an executive system managed by a mayor or city manager and overseen by a city council. Some smaller municipalities, especially in the eastern part of the country, are managed by a town board system overseen by a board of selectmen. Some towns in New England still decide many issues by town meetings.
Demand for municipal services is driven by population growth and demographics of the local population. Because municipalities must operate with a balanced budget, loss of revenue results in loss of services, usually through job cuts. Cities compete with one another to attract major employers, sometimes by offering tax breaks and other incentives....