The Units of Local Government

This webguide is a beginning step towards a full view of local government. The units listed on the menu have been researched and outlined in terms of power, services, and money. A representative of each unit reviewed the information for accuracy. Sources of information are included for each unit of government. A master listing of sources is included on the menu.

The units of government are organized in this webguide by area served—their jurisdiction, meaning the people they represent and serve, the people who vote for them. The larger the area served, the more people they represent.
The number of people they represent does not tell whether that unit of government has many or few employees or a big budget or no budget. How many people it represents also does not tell how much power a unit of government has.

The areas can be thought of as "layers"of local government. Each layer has limits on a map, serves the people inside those limits, and is responsible to the people inside those limits.
multi-parish
parish
ward
municipal
special district


Defining independence/interrelatedness of units of government

Determining the degree of independence and degree of overlap or “interrelatedness” of one unit from another unit of government is spelled out in accounting terms in the Financial Report of the Lafayette Consolidated Government for Lafayette Parish:

Degree of Independence:

(1) whether a unit has any, some, or all of these powers
  • Can incur its own debt (such as borrowing against bonds)
  • Levy its own taxes and charges
  • Buy, sell, lease and expropriate property in its own name
  • Sue and be sued
(2) whether the parish primary government’s governing authority (Lafayette Consolidated Government City-Parish Council or City-Parish Council appoints a majority of board members of the unit of government

(3) how many other controls the parish primary government sets on the unit of government, such as spelled out in creating ordinances.

Degree of Interrelatedness

What is the nature and significance of a unit of government’s relationship with the primary parish government?

How much financial support does the primary parish government contribute to that unit of government
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