by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
Did you know that every level of government has certain required functions? Many of us spend time debating or questioning the function of government and where government spends tax dollars. In North Carolina there are three main governments: State, County and Municipal (city, town or village). Many of these governments take on responsibilities that are outside the scope of their required responsibilities – but to know what those are, lets take a look at the required functions.
Counties are considered an arm of the state. So counties operate state programs such as social services, mental health, community colleges, schools, courts, jails, etc. Optional programs that counties tend to offer are things such as: fire, parks and recreation, airports, hospitals, public transportation, libraries, etc.
Municipalities are only legally required to perform building code enforcements. For those of us that live in a municipality, we know they have the authorization to offer many optional services such as: cable/broadband, electric, natural gas, and police.
So when we talk about the necessary functions of government, we first need to begin with the required functions and then look at authorized functions before making any decisions of where changes need to be made.