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Providing Public Goods in Rural America: The Role of the Professional Public Administrator

David J. Helpap
PAQ, Vol. 46 No. 2, 110-128 (2022)

Rural local governments, similar to their larger and more urban counterparts, provide many of the public services their citizens encounter on a daily basis. As would be expected, most dedicate the majority of their expenditures to services such as road maintenance, fire protection, and a handful of administrative functions. Some, however, devote significant resources to a more robust collection that includes parks, cultural institutions, and public health programs, for example. Using data from rural governments in Wisconsin, this research examines public expenditures, with an emphasis on the role of the professional administrator and the degree to which the position is correlated with expenditures on public goods. While existing scholarship has examined overall expenditures, this research provides a more nuanced focus on nine specific expenditure categories. Results indicate that population, partisanship, county-level expenditures, and fiscal capacity are

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