What do cities and villages do?

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(WKOW) — We live and work in them, but what exactly is a “city” or “village”?

“Cities were the first statutory creation, and a city has certain obligations, they have to provide certain services,”  said Jerry Deschane, the executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities said.

“A village provides just a few less. A village doesn’t have a mayor; a city has a mayor or a city manager,” he said.

Counties are an arm of the state, but villages and cities have more autonomy. That autonomy allows cities and villages to thrive and create their own community based on what their citizens want their community to look like.

“Cities and villages have what’s called “Home Rule”, they get to decide, based on what their neighbors want, what services they provide,” Deschane said.

“They get to make those decisions locally, but the amount of money a city or village can spend is capped by the state,” he said.

Cities and villages are gathering places where people live, work, and shop. In effect, cities and villages are an expression of the people who live there. That will is expressed through their elected city council & village board members.

“I’m an appointed official. Our City Council; all seven members are elected by the populous here in Janesville, they serve at large, so they represent the entire city,” Mark Freitag, the city manager of Janesville said.

“They hire a city manager, someone who’s a professional expert in the field of Public Administration, and then, you know, serves at the will of the council,” he said.

A city or village is what it is because that’s what residents want it to be. By electing local representatives residents ultimately decide what happens in their locality. Some examples of those new directions and new initiatives have come up through the democratic process in Janesville.

“We’ve established a Town Square in our downtown, we’re replacing a bridge- it’s going to be built back up this year,” Freitag said.

“We’ve got a new hotel going into town, we’ve got new businesses that have brought their headquarters into downtown, and so it’s an exciting time to be in Janesville,” he said.

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