The Process of Municipal Incorporation in the USA

  • Russell M. SmithEmail author
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


The USA operates under a federal system of governance that has implications for local governance and government. Within the federal system, local governments are creatures of the individual states and are not guaranteed any specific rights or privileges. Additionally, within the USA, states can be classified as either Dillon’s Rule or Home Rule states. This differentiation largely determines which powers local governments can exercise within their jurisdiction. As a result of this federal system—requirements, procedures, and processes governing incorporation standards across the country can differ dramatically. With that said, some of the similarities in municipal incorporation standards across the country include minimum population size, minimum population density, minimum tax rate and minimum distance between proposed and existing municipalities. Meanwhile, differences in incorporating standards found across the USA include county approval, approval from a local government boundary commission, and/or a feasibility study that explores the financial viability of a new municipality, as well as its impact on existing jurisdictions. In the end, municipalities are granted a wide array of powers that have grown over the years and currently include general governance, public safety, economic development, and a variety of other charges.


Dillon’s rule Federal Home Rule Incorporation methods Legislative standards Metropolitan reformers Public choice proponents Unitary 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.History, Politics and Social JusticeWinston-Salem State UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

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