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Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which they are located. Often, this event is marked by the award or declaration of a municipal charter.
With the notable exceptions of the City of London Corporation and the Laugharne Corporation, the term has fallen out of favour in the United Kingdom, but the concept remains central to local government in the United Kingdom, as well as former British colonies such as India and Canada.
A city charter or town charter (generically, municipal charter) is a legal document establishing a municipality such as a city or town. The concept developed in Europe during the middle ages and is considered to be a municipal version of a constitution.
Traditionally the granting of a charter gave a settlement and its inhabitants the right to town privileges under the feudal system. Townspeople who lived in chartered towns were burghers, as opposed to serfs who lived in villages. Towns were often "free", in the sense that they were directly protected by the king or emperor, and were not part of a feudal fief.
Today the process for granting charters is determined by the type of government of the state in question. In monarchies, charters are still often a royal charter given by the Crown or the state authorities acting on behalf of the Crown. In federations, the granting of charters may be within the jurisdiction of the lower level of government such as a state or province.
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In Bangladesh, many cities are governed by city corporations, having mayoral elections, including Dhaka South, Dhaka North, Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur, Comilla and Gazipur. Other major towns are governed by municipal corporations, headed by an elected mayor, including Mymensingh, Gopalganj, Jessore, Bogra, Dinajpur, Saidapur, Narayanganj and Rangamati etc. Municipal heads are elected for a span of five years.
In Brazil, municipal corporations are called municípios and are created by means of local legislation at the state level, or after passing a referendum vote of the affected population. All municipal corporations must also abide by an organic municipal law which is passed and amended (when needed) at the municipal level.
In Canada charters are granted by provincial authorities.
In Germany, municipal corporations existed since antiquity and through medieval times, until they became out of favour during the absolutism. In order to strengthen the public spirit, the city law of Prussia dated 19 November 1808 picked up this concept. It is the basis of today's municipal law.
In India a Municipal Corporation is a local government body that administers a city of population 10,00,000 or more. Under the panchayati raj system, it interacts directly with the state government, though it is administratively part of the district it is located in. The largest Municipal Corporations in India currently are Mumbai, followed by Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Surat and Pune. The Corporation of Chennai is the oldest Municipal Corporation in the world outside UK.
The Municipal Corporation consists of members elected from the wards of the city. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected by the public. A Municipal Commissioner, who is from the Indian Administrative Service is appointed to head the administrative staff of the Municipal Corporation, implement the decisions of the Corporation and prepare its annual budget.
The Municipal Corporation is responsible for roads, public transportation, water supply, records of births and deaths (delegated from central government Births and Deaths Registration Act), sanitation that includes waste management, sewage, drainage and flood control, public safety services like fire and ambulance services, gardens and maintenance of buildings. The sources of income of the Corporation are property tax, entertainment tax, octroi (now abolished from many cities) and usage fees for utilities.
Republic of Ireland
In Ireland, municipal corporations existed in boroughs since medieval times. The Corporation of Dublin, officially styled the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the City of Dublin had existed since the 13th century. Corporations were established under the royal charter establishing the city or borough. The Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840 abolished all but ten of the boroughs and their corporations. The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 created two different types of borough, county boroughs had essentially equal status to counties - these comprised Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford (as well as Belfast and Derry, which are now in Northern Ireland). The other boroughs were non-county boroughs.
The Local Government Act 2001 abolished the title of municipal corporation. Corporations of county boroughs (renamed cities) were renamed City Councils. Non county boroughs were abolished, but those towns which were previously non-county boroughs were allowed to use the title of Borough Council. Royal charters remain in force for ceremonial and civic purposes only.
From the beginning of American colonial rule, Philippines cities were formally established through laws enacted by the various national legislatures in the country. The Philippine Commission gave the city of Manila its charter in 1901, while the city of Baguio was established by the Philippine Assembly which was composed by elected members instead of appointed ones. During the Commonwealth era, the National Assembly established an additional ten cities. Since achieving independence from the United States in 1946 the Philippine Congress has established 124 more cities (as of September 2007), the majority of which required the holding of a plebiscite within the proposed city's jurisdiction to ratify the city's charter.
In the United States, such municipal corporations are established by charters that are granted either directly by a state legislature by means of local legislation, or indirectly under a general municipal corporation law, usually after the proposed charter has passed a referendum vote of the affected population.