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A Comparative Analysis of Illinois, Ohio, Colorado and South Dakota Park Districts and Parks and Recreation Departments to Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, and Michigan Parks and Recreation Departments
Unformatted Document Text:  ABSTRACT Since Bollens (1957) first identified special districts as a “dark continent” in political science, the number of non-school special districts in the United States has grown substantially. During the past 50 years, however, political science objections to the fragmentation of metropolitan government have remained largely theoretical. This study examines one form of non-school special districts-- park districts-- and evaluates their efficiency and effectiveness. The study evaluates park district services compared to similar services provided by consolidated general-purpose municipal governments. Two competing hypotheses are identified. The first states that parks and recreation departments provide higher levels of efficiency in delivering services than park districts. The second states that park districts provide higher service levels than municipal parks and recreation departments. Midwestern states were selected for the study because they have the largest number of non-school special districts in the United States and comparable numbers of parks and recreation departments within municipalities and county governments. Service levels, autonomy, demographic, and administrator profile data for park districts and parks and recreation departments were collected by surveying an equal number of randomly selected park district administrators and randomly selected parks and recreation department administrators in Midwestern states. 2

Authors: Emanuelson, David.
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ABSTRACT
Since Bollens (1957) first identified special districts as a “dark continent”
in political science, the number of non-school special districts in the United States
has grown substantially. During the past 50 years, however, political science
objections to the fragmentation of metropolitan government have remained largely
theoretical.
This study examines one form of non-school special districts-- park districts-- and
evaluates their efficiency and effectiveness. The study evaluates park district
services compared to similar services provided by consolidated general-purpose
municipal governments.
Two competing hypotheses are identified. The first states that parks and
recreation departments provide higher levels of efficiency in delivering services than
park districts. The second states that park districts provide higher service levels than
municipal parks and recreation departments.
Midwestern states were selected for the study because they have the largest
number of non-school special districts in the United States and comparable numbers
of parks and recreation departments within municipalities and county governments.
Service levels, autonomy, demographic, and administrator profile data for
park districts and parks and recreation departments were collected by surveying an
equal number of randomly selected park district administrators and randomly
selected parks and recreation department administrators in Midwestern states.
2


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