Counting local governments
Illinois has the most local governments, 6,968, of any state, while Hawaii, with 21 local governments, has the fewest, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. As The Sacramento Bee reports, preliminary figures from the 2012 Census of Governments show that 89,004 local governments existed in the U.S. in 2012, down from 89,476 in the last census of governments conducted in 2007.
The local government census is conducted every five years, for years ending in “2” and “7”. The first count was conducted in 1952.
The survey includes various forms of local government. Those governments in the 2012 census included 3,031 counties (down from 3,033 in 2007), 19,522 municipalities (up from 19,492 in 2007), 16,364 townships (down from 16,519 in 2007), 37,203 special districts (down from 37,381 in 2007) and 12,884 independent school districts (down from 13,051 in 2007).
The decline in school districts is part of a continuing trend that has accelerated with more school closings in the wake of the Great Recession. Texas is first in the nation with the most independent school districts, 1,079. California came in second, with 1,025 school districts.
Ten states had fewer townships because of mergers and consolidation, according to the Census Bureau. Kansas decreased the most, dropping to 1,268 townships in 2012 from 1,353 in 2007.
The census survey includes statistics on local governments’ finances, services and employees. It is the most comprehensive set of statistics available on local government.