In addition to the governing body – which may also be referred to as a board or council – local governments may establish boards, committees, and commissions. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between them.
Local Government Boards
Local government boards are bodies established to oversee specific departments or areas of governance within a municipality or county. These boards are typically composed of appointed or elected officials and are responsible for making important decisions and policies that affect their respective departments. For example, a local government may have boards dedicated to finance, planning and zoning, education, health, or public works.
Local Government Committees
Local government committees serve as advisory bodies that assist in the decision-making process. They are usually composed of experts, community representatives, or individuals with specific knowledge and experience related to the committee’s focus area. Unlike boards, committees do not have the authority to make final decisions or enforce regulations. Instead, they provide recommendations, conduct research, and offer expertise to aid local government boards and commissions.
Committees are often established to address specific issues or concerns within the community. Examples of local government committees include budget advisory committees, environmental committees, human rights committees, or committees focusing on economic development. These committees help gather diverse perspectives and ensure that decisions are well-informed, considering various viewpoints.
Local Government Commissions
Local government commissions, sometimes known as regulatory commissions or oversight boards, are specialized entities responsible for regulating specific areas of local governance. These commissions are typically created by law or ordinance and operate independently from the governing board. Commissions consist of appointed members who possess expertise or experience in the field they oversee.
Commissions have quasi-judicial powers and serve to enforce regulations, administer permits, and resolve disputes related to their specific jurisdiction. Examples of local government commissions include planning commissions, zoning boards, and ethics commissions. These entities play a vital role in ensuring adherence to established policies and maintaining the integrity and fairness of local governance processes.