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A statutory city (German: Statutarstadt in Austria, or Czech: statutární město in the Czech Republic) is a municipal corporation with town privileges of city status. In Austria, the statutory cities also accomplish tasks on an intermediate level of administration and therefore are not incorporated into the districts but form urban districts in their own right; in Czechia, the statute is more of a ceremonial title.
According to the Constitution of Austria, a city can request this status if it has more than 20,000 inhabitants. After the state government and the Federal Government agree, it is granted as long as it does not endanger any national interests.
The state capitals of Graz, Klagenfurt and Innsbruck were elevated to statutory cities by the Emperor of Austria as early as in 1850. However, there are even smaller Statutarstädte that were previously granted this right for historical reasons, like the cities of Eisenstadt and Rust, which until World War I belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary as royal free cities and retained their own city statutes upon the incorporation of the Burgenland region into the Republic of Austria in 1921. The statutory cities were called urban areas and were treated as Stadtkreise according to the Deutsche Gemeindeordnung during the period of the Anschluss to Nazi Germany from 1938 to 1945, though, as such, were given no power over their own municipal constitution.
Besides local administration, the responsibilities of a statutory city are to manage the Bezirk (English: district), which places the Statutarstadt besides the municipal office as district administration authorities. The mayor is the head of the municipality as well as the head of the district administrative authority. The only town that applied for elevation to the status of a Statutarstadt since World War II is Wels, as equalization payments for the handling of additional tasks were inadequate so far. The present-day statutory cities comprise all Austrian state capitals, except for Bregenz.
There are fifteen Statutarstädte in Austria:
- Eisenstadt (since 1921, Hungarian royal free city from 1648)
- Rust (since 1921, Hungarian royal free city from 1681)
- Krems (since 1938)
- St. Pölten (since 1922)
- Waidhofen an der Ybbs (since 1868)
- Wiener Neustadt (since 1866)
- Graz (since 1850)
- Innsbruck (since 1850)
- Salzburg (since 1869)
- Vienna (since 1850)
A similar model in the Czech Republic (derived from its common origin in Austria-Hungary) was renewed after the fall of communism by the Act on Municipalities in 1990, which established 13 statutory cities in addition to Prague, the capital city which is a de facto statutory city. Statutory cities can, but need not be and mostly are not divided into boroughs (obvod or část) with their own elected councils; such a city has to issue a statute (statut) that delimits power to boroughs. Unlike Austria, before districts of the Czech Republic were abolished only the three largest cities (Brno, Ostrava and Plzeň) constituted a district (okres) on their own; the others were a part (though always a capital, except Havířov) of a district with smaller municipalities.
As statute became a something of status symbol (the mayor is not called starosta like in other municipalities but primátor), 12 additional statutory cities were created, first by the new Act on Municipalities in 2000 and then its three amendments (unlike the simple titles of a city/town or hamlet — městys — for which a municipality can apply to the government and chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament).
Since 2012, there are 25 statutory cities (plus Prague), comprising all Czech cities over 40 thousand inhabitants:
Prague (de facto)
- Jihlava (since 2000)
- A similar concept in Germany is called Stadtkreis or Kreisfreie Stadt, but these cities, such as Munich, do not have a municipal constitution - they use the Gemeindeordnung, a state law differing from Bundesland to Bundesland.
- 65 cities in Poland are vested with the administrative rights of a powiat district, therefore called miasto na prawach powiatu (city with the rights of a district) or powiat grodzki (city district).
- In the English-speaking world, especially in the U.S. state of Virginia, a similar concept is known as independent city or as unitary authority in the United Kingdom.