Local Government

Austria Table of Contents

Provinces are divided into districts and local communities. The primary function of district governments is to administer federal programs. They do not have the power of taxation. A district is headed by a district commissioner, usually a career civil servant, who is appointed by the provincial governor. Local communities are self-governing, having a popularly elected community council that is chosen by proportional representation on the basis of political party strength. The number of representatives ranges from seven to 100, depending on the population. Members serve a five- or six-year term as determined by provincial regulations. Community council meetings are presided over by a mayor, elected by and responsible to the community council.

The federal government or a province may delegate some functions to a local government. Otherwise, local communities deal with matters of local concern, such as safety, traffic, police, settlement of disputes that are not dealt with by the courts, public utilities, cultural institutions, public housing, and health care services.

Local actions, whether autonomous or delegated, are in the long run usually subject to provincial or federal supervision or controls. Administrative and legal regulations on the provincial and federal levels are so pervasive that even decisions that are considered the sole responsibility of local communities are actually limited. Local communities, however, have recourse to the Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court if they believe that their rights are being infringed.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress