Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Local government finance

Resourcing local government remains a central challenge to effective decentralisation. This section has content relating to different models of fiscal decentralisation, options for identifying new sources of local revenue, such as local property tax; and strategies for improving collection and deployment of own-source revenue. It also offers information about improving the borrowing potential of local government, innovative financing models such as municipal bonds, shared services, and public private partnerships.

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Australian Infrastructure Financial Management Guidelines

The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) has recently published the Australian Infrastructure Financial Management Guidelines. The Guidelines provide new assistance to link the technical (engineering) and financial aspects of managing infrastructure and services, and to assist infrastructure owners such as local government to develop sustainable long-term asset and financial management plans. Financial management for long-life infrastructure assets (such as roads, water, sewerage, and stormwater networks, and community buildings) is about ensuring sustainability in the provision of services required by the community. These new Guidelines offer advice for every organisation and individual with responsibility for the management of infrastructure assets. 

Author: Chris Champion Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2009


REVIEW NOTE: Local Government Reform and Local Government Finance

The multi-faceted problem of local government finance has attracted increasing attention in the new millennium. The reasons for the renewed interest in this thorny question are comparatively straightforward. In the first place, for the past two decades all public sector institutions have been profoundly affected by the twin revolutions simultaneously sweeping the world – the globalization of the international economy and the information revolution wrought by the computer age – and local government is no exception. Not only have these inexorable forces had dramatic implications for the structure of government as a whole, and relationships between the different tiers of government, but also for service provision and public finance, including local public finance. Secondly, substantially heightened demands on local government, together with limited access to adequate funding, have seen the genesis of a deepening crisis in the financial sustainability of local government entities.

Author: Brian Dollery Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2009


Structural reform, revenue adequacy and optimal tax assignment in local government

A striking feature of local government reform in many Commonwealth countries has been a heavy reliance on structural reform, often in the form of forced local council amalgamation. This paper argues that the long-run success of structural change in local government hinges on several key factors, not least that voluntary rather than compulsory council mergers have a far greater chance of success. A second key ingredient resides in a high degree of local autonomy in both the composition and operation of decentralized governmental functions. A third vital factor lies in ensuring that revenue and tax assignment is sufficient to provide local government with financial autonomy. Finally, adequate powers of taxation need to be accorded to local government and this requires careful consideration of the types of taxes most suited to local government.

Author: Lorenzo Robotti, Brian Dollery Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2009


Local Governance Reforms in Zambia: A Review

This paper provides an overview of the efforts of successive Zambian governments to transform and institutionalise democratic local governance, and to come to grips with the socio-economic development challenges facing the country. It assesses the progress and challenges that governments are facing in their efforts to transform local government into democratic, developmental local governance.

Author: Bornwell C Chikulo Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2009


Current developments in New Zealand local government

August 2007 saw the release of 'Funding Local Government', the report of the Local Government Rates Inquiry (available at www.ratesinquiry.govt.nz). New Zealand local government has one of the world's most flexible rating (property tax) systems. Councils may choose between capital value, land value or annual (rental) value. Rates may be levied primarily as an ad valorem charge but councils may also use a variety of fixed charges. In addition they may levy a targeted rate or rates, which may be either a fixed amount or ad valorem, charged on a single property or category of properties to recover the cost of a specific service or services. Councils also have the power, in consultation with their communities, to adopt highly flexible postponement policies allowing people to defer, indefinitely, payment of rates. (Normally when this is done, councils take a first charge on the property and recover interest at their marginal cost of borrowing.)

Author: Peter McKinlay Publisher: Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Publication year: 2008


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