INCORPORATION.—In most States, villages, boroughs, and towns are incorporated under general laws made by the State legislature. A majority of the legal voters living within the proposed limits must first vote in favor of the proposition to incorporate. In some States, villages are incorporated by special act of the legislature.
GOVERNMENT PURPOSES.—The purposes of the village or borough government are few in number, and lie within a narrow limit. It is a corporate body, having the usual corporate powers. Under the village organization, local public works, such as streets, sidewalks, and bridges, are maintained more readily and in better condition than under the government, of the township and county. The presence of the village officers tends to preserve the peace and make crime less frequent.
OFFICERS.—The usual officers of the village or borough are the trustees or councilmen, whose duties are mostly legislative; the marshal, and sometimes a president or mayor; a collector and a treasurer, whose duties are executive; and the recorder, or police judge, or justices of the peace, whose duties are judicial. The officers are usually elected by the legal voters, and serve for a term of one or two years. In many villages the president and the collector are elected by the trustees, the former from among their own number.
DUTIES.—The trustees or council pass laws, called ordinances, relating to streets, fast driving, lamps, water-works, the police system, public parks, public health, and the public buildings. They appoint minor officers, such as clerk, regular and special policemen, keeper of the cemetery, and fire-wardens; prescribe the duties, and fix the compensation of these officers.
The president or mayor is the chief executive officer, and is charged with seeing that the laws are enforced. In villages having no president or mayor, this duty devolves upon the trustees. The marshal is a ministerial officer, with the same duties and often the same jurisdiction as the constable, and is sometimes known by that name. He preserves the peace, makes arrests, serves processes, and waits upon the recorder’s court. The collector collects the village taxes. The treasurer receives all village funds, and pays out money upon the order of the trustees.
The recorder or police judge tries minor offences, such as breach of the peace, and holds examining trials of higher crimes. His jurisdiction is usually equal to that of justices of the peace in the same State. In some States the village has two justices of the peace instead of the recorder, these being also officers of the county.