Skip to Content

What Is The Difference Between Town And Township? (Deep Dive)

What Is The Difference Between Town And Township? (Deep Dive)

Towns and townships are two distinct forms of local government, each with its own purpose and rules.

Towns usually have an economic reason for existing, such as a business district or commercial hub. On the other hand, townships focus more on providing services such as police protection and road maintenance to unincorporated areas. 

While both have their roots in the same basic purpose of providing local government services, the differences in their scope and responsibilities can be quite large. 

This article will explore the differences between a town and a township, and look at how they fit into the larger picture of local government in America. So, let’s dive into it!

Town

A collection of the population that lives in a specific area makes a town.

The definition of town varies from area to area. Different states set different criteria for a population to be called a town.

Watch this video if you’re interested to know about 10 Top towns.

Township

A township is a type of local government unit in some states in the United States.

They are responsible for providing certain services to their residents, such as maintaining roads, providing fire and police protection, assessing taxes, and managing zoning ordinances. Township governments also manage parks, libraries, and other public facilities.

What is a Township?
A town

Pros of Township

  • Smaller, more localized government: Township governments are typically much smaller and more localized than larger municipal or county governments, meaning that decisions can be made quickly and efficiently.
  • Increased representation: Townships allow for a higher degree of citizen participation in local government decision-making processes since they provide direct representation at the local level.
  • Personal service: Townships are typically run by elected officials who have a direct connection to the citizens they serve, providing personalized service that is often lacking in larger government entities.
  • Fiscal autonomy: Townships typically have more control over their own budgets and can tailor services to meet the specific needs of their citizens.

Cons of Township

  • Limited resources: Townships tend to have fewer financial and staff resources than larger jurisdictions, making it difficult to keep up with the growing demands of their citizens.
  • Poor coordination with other governments: Townships may lack the ability to coordinate effectively with other local or state governments, leading to a lack of coordination in the provision of services.
  • Lack of specialization: Townships may not have the specialized staff and expertise needed to address certain issues, such as housing or development.
  • Limited revenue sources: Townships typically rely heavily on property taxes for their operating budgets, leaving them vulnerable to fluctuations in the real estate market.

How Is The Town Different From The Township?

TownTownship 
Towns are incorporated boroughs, cities, or rural areas with certain populationsOn the other hand, townships are subdivisions of counties
It’s important to note that towns are defined differently in every country. Population size distinguishes towns, hamlets, and villages in the UK, as it does in other countries. Alabama, for example, defines towns as places with fewer than 2000 residents. The only “town” in the legal sense in Pennsylvania is Bloomsburg with over 14000 residents.There can be a number of towns in a township, meaning it is larger than a town and has more population
Towns usually have an economic reason for being and can be distinguished from rural areas by the presence of businesses.Townships generally contain many towns and villages within their geographical limits.
The towns come under the authority of townships, though they can have their local government Townships usually have their own police departments or are part of a regional police department.
Town Vs. Township

What Is A County?

A county is an administrative division of a state or country, based on geographic location. It also functions as an adjective, used to refer to a particular geographic area.

For example, “county court” refers to the courts within a particular geographic area. In some cases, a county is made up of multiple municipalities. 

What is a County?
Houses in a country

In the United States, counties are governed by a county government. Some are federal, while others are state-run. County governments usually have a board of supervisors, a county commission, or a county council.

There may also be a mayor or county executive, although this position is mostly ceremonial and does not have much power.

Is London a City or a Town?

The answer depends on the context. The United Kingdom’s capital, London, is technically a city but is made up of many smaller towns and boroughs.

One of these is the City of Westminster, which is the smallest administrative area of London. Other districts include Southwark, which has its own cathedral but does not have city status. 

What is an Unincorporated Town?

Unincorporated towns are communities that do not have a governmental structure, such as a city, but still have a recognizable geographic presence.

Unincorporated towns usually lie in rural areas and are not densely populated. They offer less regulation than cities and may have lower taxes or homesteading laws.

What is an Unincorporated town?
A street within a town

In contrast, incorporated cities have local government and a police agency. Unincorporated towns, on the other hand, do not have any municipal government and rely on the sheriff or county to provide police and fire services. Fire departments in unincorporated towns typically work with volunteer teams and depend on county and state resources.

In the United States and Canada, the number of unincorporated towns is relatively low. However, some of these communities are recognized by the United States Postal Service as acceptable place names for mailing addresses. In some cases, these communities have their own post offices.

Conclusion

  • A township is a smaller unit of local government that operates under similar laws as a city. It is often located in rural areas.
  • A city is a much larger unit of local government.
  • A township is at the bottom of the municipal pyramid, whereas a city is at the top.
  • A town may be incorporated or unincorporated, or part of a larger city. Regardless of the definition, a town is generally smaller than a city.
  • Cities typically have larger populations and greater ethnic diversity. Therefore, cities tend to have a larger economy than townships. 

Other Articles