The provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connacht no longer serve as political divisions, but each is divided into a number of counties that do. Prior to the passage of the new Local Goverment Act of 2001 and its implementation in 2002, Ireland was divided into 29 county councils, 5 boroughs, 5 boroughs governed by municipal corporations, 49 urban district councils, and 26 boards of town commissioners. Under the new system, the county councils remain the same, but the corporations no longer exist. The cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Galway are city councils, while Drogheda, Wexford, Kilkenny, Sligo, and Clonmel are the five borough councils. The urban district councils and town commissions are now one and the same and known as town councils, of which there are 75.
Local authorities' principal functions include planning and development, housing, roads, and sanitary and environmental services. Health services, which were administered by local authorities up to 1971, are now administered by regional health boards, although the local authorities still continue to pay part of the cost. Expenditures are financed by a local tax on the occupation of property (rates), by grants and subsidies from the central government, and by charges made for certain services. Capital expenditure is financed mainly by borrowing from the Local Loans Fund, operated by the central government, and from banking and insurance institutions.