I have to admit, I don’t understand townships.
In Virginia, where I grew up, your local government was either a city or a county. There was no overlap–cities under Commonwealth law are independent of counties. There was also no question where to turn for local services or who to vote out of office when things weren’t working. (Within counties, there can be towns, which would provide some limited additioinal services, but schools, the jails, and major services are still the purview of the county.)
When I lived in Pennsylvania, I lived in a borough, which was in a township, which was in a county. I never did figure out which one did what, though, apparently, the county didn’t do much in terms of day-to-day services except run a sheriff’s office (though the township and the bourough did the policing–as near as I could find out, the sheriff’s office was like a marshall’s office, escorting prisoners to court and the like) and create jobs.
It was a relief to get to Delaware, which has counties and cities, and you know what’s what and who’s who.
Apparently, I’m not the only person confused by townships:
She’s a school business administrator in Washington Township, Gloucester County, still rankled by a $20,000 insurance bill that arrived 10 years late. During that decade, the bill had landed repeatedly at one of the (six in New Jersey-ed.) other Washington Townships.
Meehan figured the bill was so old by the time she saw it that she was within her rights to refuse to pay. She lost in court.
“It’s one of the problems of having one name for several towns. The bills went to a different Washington Township, and they were just throwing them in the trash,” sighed Meehan, who for 14 years has worked in New Jersey’s southernmost Washington Township, known more for sprawl than the famous George.
It’s just one of the mail mix-ups, clerical mistakes and skewed checkbooks caused by same-name towns.