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The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.
By Roger L. Kemp
May 17, 2016
Societal changes in Canada and the United States are having a dramatic impact on the types and the levels of municipal public services that are being provided to citizens. These services are provided by public officials to their citizens, the taxpayers that they serve and who pay for them. The impacts of these changes on a local government’s public services are highlighted below, including the evolving and changing types and levels.
Impact on Public Services
These societal changes mentioned above have led to modifications of many existing municipal public services in cities throughout North America. In general, a typical local government’s modified services include:
The other municipal public services that are provided by specific municipal departments include city clerk services, economic development services, educational services, financial services, fire services, health services, human resource services, information technology services, library services, parks and recreation services, planning and building services, police services and public works services. These services are also evolving and changing rapidly as a city’s population changes.
Public officials and local government employees have almost no control over the dynamics of their “working environment.” Societal factors that directly influence the types and levels of the public services that they provide include their political, economic, social and legal environments. The political environment includes the election of liberals, conservatives or some combination thereof, which may change over time. The economic environment, which they have little control over, includes hard times, good times and everything in between. The social environment includes the impact of an aging population, income levels, educational levels and unemployment rates on a community’s service levels. Lastly, the legal environment is primarily set by higher levels of government and their respective court systems.
The various levels of government in Canada and the United States are evolving. Their public services are being influenced and impacted by these societal changes. The levels of government must adapt to these changes so that they can modify the level and quality of public services in order to meet the needs, preferences and demands of their citizens.
Author: Roger L. Kemp, MPA, MBA, Ph.D., ICMA-CM, a career city manager, is a professional in residence in the department of public management at the University of New Haven, Connecticut and a distinguished adjunct professor at Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California. Roger, a consultant and frequent speaker, can be reached via email at [email protected]