Stephen P. Coelen William F. Fox
The Provision of Community Services
The provision of public services in nonmetro America is complicated by the dispersed population and low incomes, which often occur in these areas, as well as by shifting populations that have been oriented first away and now toward nonmetro areas. These factors coupled with the lack of municipal governments in many open-space places have led to either nonexistent or insufficient and inefficient provision of services. These are often the root causes of the failure of nonmetro areas to achieve the economies of scale inherent in public goods, to obtain sufficient funding that is necessary to offset expenditures, and to plan optimally for the long-run provision of services.
This chapter will show that these theoretical tenets are integral to new nonmetro development policies promulgated by state and federal agencies.1 The theoretical issues have achieved such prominence because it has been soundly demonstrated that public services are critical in attracting, holding, or losing the human resources necessary for development in nonmetro areas. The national emphasis on balanced growth precludes a laissez-faire approach. First, this chapter will define the diversity of the available services. The next section contains a theoretical evaluation of the basic premises on dispersed populations, low incomes, and population dynamics. The final section summarizes the rural dilemma, showing the impact that these services may have on rural quality of life.
The public services included in the nonmetro public sector are the same as those found in the metro sector: health, education, recreation, transportation, safety, justice,