1st Edition

Local Government Administration in Small Town America

Edited By James C. Clinger, Donna M. Handley, Wendy L. Eaton Copyright 2024
    390 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    390 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In government administration and leadership, rural community leaders face unique challenges in delivering public services including (but not limited to) education, health care, and public safety. Meanwhile, residents who live in smaller and more isolated rural settings often face greater difficulties accessing provisions and services or commuting to work, among other economic development challenges. These factors may affect a community’s resiliency to and recovery from shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Local Government Administration in Small Town America devotes some overdue scholarly attention to the governance and administration of public programs in small towns and rural communities in the United States.

    The chapter contributors to this volume analyze some of the unique challenges rural communities face, as well as the policy tools that their governments employ to address them. The book explores ways that small town governments collaborate with one another, the state, and the federal government, and examines how local government officials use knowledge of people and place to improve policy performance. The chapters are designed to provide cases and strategies for students and practitioners in public administration to use in a small town environment, while also considering a community’s distinctive social and political culture, which determines how local political leaders and government practitioners might respond to demands and challenges they face. Local Government Administration in Small Town America is an essential resource for undergraduate and graduate students studying local government, as well as for rural practitioners navigating evolving challenges unique to their communities.

    Part I: Government Structures

    1. The Network of Interests, Institutions, and Individual Interactions in Small Town Governance

    James C. Clinger, Donna M. Handley and Wendy L. Eaton

    Case Study: Starting Out as a Professional Administrator in a Small Town

    Jamie Lawrence

    2. The Origin and Persistence of American County Boundaries: Courthouse Competition and the Road to Reapportionment

    William A. Fischel

    Part II: Public Functions in Rural Government Systems

    Subsection: Economic and Community Development

    3. Placemaking as an Economic Development Strategy for Rural Governments

    Janet M. Kelly

    Subsection: Election Administration

    4. The Mechanics of Democracy: The Critical Role of Local Governments in Supporting Election Operations

    Kathleen Hale

    Subsection: Public Budgeting and Finance

    5. Public Budgeting in Small Local Governments

    Jiseul Kim

    6. Using Financial Statements to Improve Fiscal Strength and Make Policy Decisions

    William C. Rivenbark

    7. Small Town Revenues for Big Time Public Services

    Deborah A. Carroll

    Case Study: Crowdfunding Local Government: Belmont’s Bicycle Sunday Program

    Martin K. Mayer and John C. Morris

    Subsection: Healthcare, Parks and Recreation and Wellness

    8. Rural Communities and Access to Health Care

    Mary Ellen Travers and Sue M. Neal

    Case Study: Maternal Health and the Healthy Start Program

    Mary Ellen Travers and Sue M. Neal

    9. Rural Parks and Recreation: Understanding and Meeting the Needs

    Clement Lau

    Subsection: Human Resources

    10. Human Resources: Recruitment and Retention in Small Cities and Towns

    Jaymes Vettraino and Sue M. Neal

    Case Study: Volunteer Fire Departments in Small Town America

    Jonathan M. Westendorf

    Subsection: Infrastructure and Highway Services

    11. Gateway Towns: Loving our Rural Communities to Death

    Roger R. Carter

    Subsection: Nonprofits and Social Services

    12. Nonprofit Organizations and Arts Education in a Rural Community

    Elise Lael Kieffer

    13. Guthrie KY and Civic Engagement: How Small Groups of People Make a Difference

    Stephanie L. Bellar

    Subsection: Technology, Internet, and Broadband Availability

    14. The Where of Small-Town Governance: Charting the Path from Technocracy to Democracy

    Sue M. Neal and Jaymes Vettraino

    15. Broadband Availability and Adoption in Rural America

    Simone Silva and Narine Badasyan

    Subsection: Public Safety and Emergency Management

    16. Public Safety in Rural and Small Town America

    James C. Clinger

    Case Study: Personal Reflections on Small Town Policing

    Kim Wallace

    17. Challenges in Rural Emergency Management

    Clinton McNair and Scott E. Robinson

    Part III: Partnerships

    18. Enhancing Rural Capacity and Public Service Values through Intergovernmental and Intersectoral Collaboration

    Jeremy L. Hall and Donna M. Handley

    Case Study: Personal Diplomacy and the Importance of Local Mayoral Networking

    Matthew L. Howell

    19. Solution or Trouble? Privatization and Rural Governments

    Martin K. Mayer and John C. Morris

    20. The Role of Federalism in the Attainment of Collaborative Sustainability Outcomes in Small Communities

    Jayce L. Farmer

    Case Study: One Food Basket at a Time: Addressing Food Insecurity

    Clara Gerhardt

    21. Interlocal Economic Development Collaboration in Rural America: A Case of West Texas

    Sung-Wook Kwon and Xiaoou Cheng

    Conclusion for Managing Mayberry

    James C. Clinger, Donna M. Handley and Wendy L. Eaton


    James C. Clinger is a professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology and serves as director of the Master of Public Administration program at Murray State University. He teaches courses in state and local government, Kentucky politics, intergovernmental relations, public policy analysis, and public budgeting and finance.

    Donna M. Handley serves as Master of Public Administration Director and associate professor at Southern Utah University. Prior to her academic career, she served as an assistant director of community development for the City of Auburn, Alabama. Her research interests include online learning, rural community governance and leadership, and women and leadership.

    Wendy L. Eaton currently serves as the Program Chair of the Master of Public Administration program at Franklin University (Ohio). Prior to her academic career, she served as an assistant city manager and has over twelve years of experience in local government management.

    "This well-conceived book fills a major vacuum in the public administration literature that exists on rural living and governance. The authors explore numerous topics from economic development strategy to public budgeting challenges to public safety and others. A theme that is present in many of the chapters is the lack of financial support for healthcare, non-profits, broadband, and public services. For all those interested in local government management, you will find this volume enlightening even if your focus is on urban governance."
    Douglas J. Watson, Retired City Manager and Professor, The University of Texas at Dallas, United States