Special districts in United States refer to the independent governmental units with special functions as opposed to the main general purpose local governments such as township, municipal, and county governments (Gerston, 2006). They exist separately within a limited boundary and are characterized by independent fiscal and administrative control. Special districts were initially created in the American colonies before the revolutionary war to manage various public projects including roads and levees that were beyond the local governments’ jurisdiction (Gerston, 2006). Today, special districts have become a common form of governance. They have provided variety of services such as irrigation, provision of portable water, protection of the local populations from over bank flooding and have been empowered by the United States to act autonomously.
The growth of the special districts over the recent past has been promoted by their ability to independently raise funds through bonds and fees (Gerston, 2006). Since the special districts are independent government entities the funds allow them to provide numerous, but usually related forms of services. Moreover, most of the special districts have also been granted the power to coordinate various construction projects making them popular with local population compared to the all purpose forms of local governments (Gerston, 2006).
In addition, the extensive geographical coverage of the special districts has fueled their growth. In most circumstances, the fragmented and smaller political units have not managed to sufficiently resolve the local issues both geographically and financially (Gerston, 2006). However, the special districts are usually geographically larger compared to the local political jurisdictions. As such, they are better prepared to combat floodplains, which usually extend beyond the cities or counties’ political boundaries.
One of the significant ways in which the state-local relations may fuel the growth of special districts is by maintaining positive public relation with the local communities. Positive public opinion and knowledge of the roles of the special districts is very significant to their existence (Gerston, 2006). Therefore, the existence of bodies or associations which provide information that promotes the special districts to the local and state governments, various legislators and the local communities is very vital.
Intergovernmental Relations in the United States
Stephen and Wikstrom examine and propose various reforms to the intergovernmental relation system in the United States. One of the reform areas that they propose is the effective response to the extreme complexity of the system. The intergovernmental relation complexity is promoted by variety of factors ranging from demography, geography, and politics to the electoral behavior of the citizens (Stephens & Wikstrom, 2006). Stephens & Wikstrom (2006) proposes continued support of the various federal activities and demonstration of a shared commitment as well as a representative approach to the understanding and analysis of the intergovernmental policy issues. Shared commitment and a collective approach to local, state and federal polices will serve as a significant resolution to the different intergovernmental complexities by providing technical assistance e and an important policy advocate medium.
The authors also propose a reform on the conflicting components of the horizontal and the vertical components of the intergovernmental relations (Stephens & Wikstrom, 2006). The intergovernmental relations especially at the local and the state levels have shifted from what used to be referred as coordination and corporation among them to competition and adversity. The local governments compete with the state government for the dwindling federal resources. Stephens & Wikstrom (2006) propose that the various components of the government should work together to increase the value and the role of the intergovernmental relations. Such a reform, when implemented will be essential in minimizing the competition and the increasing cost of the state and the federal mandates.
Another significant reforms proposed by Stephen and Wikstrom revolves around the impact of the American public polices and the international relations amidst the rapidly changing technology, rising globalism and security concerns (Stephens & Wikstrom, 2006). The authors propose the federal, government takes interest and the responsibility of the different established polices and state plans to ensure efficient policy innovation and improved intergovernmental relations. The policy, politics and the administrative structures that correlate to the positive welfare of the Americans are worthy to be seriously considered as they highlight the significance of the different niche programs that leads to incremental response to the major policy concerns (Stephens & Wikstrom, 2006). Based on the current policy situations where different reforms such as health care reforms are vital, such a policy interest and relationship will intensify and improve the status of the American police landscape.