Local Government: Municipal Charters
WithAaron Deslatte
Pages 4

This entry reviews the history and study of municipal charters in the United States. It covers the origins of city charters, their constitutional and operational characteristics, and future directions of public administration research. Charters have been viewed through the new institutional analytic framework, which treats charters as constitution-level contractual agreements between citizens and government designed to minimize uncertainty about the future distribution of costs and benefits of public goods. Charters have also been the subject of political conflict as historically disenfranchised groups opposed charter reforms they argued would marginalize their voice in governmental decisions. It briefly details the methods of “direct democracy” commonly included in charters as a response to corruption and inefficiencies.