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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Improving subnational government development finance in emerging and developing economies: toward a strategic approach

Considerable attention has been given to enhancing subnational development finance in response to the 2008 global financial crisis and recent global development agendas, including the Sustainable Development Goals, Financing for Development, and Habitat III/New Urban Agenda. Much work on this topic is fragmented, focusing on specific elements of development finance: fiscal transfers, capital market access, public-sector lending agencies, or public-private partnerships. Most countries, however, have a range of subnational governments with varying needs and capacities that require different and evolving mixes of development finance mechanisms. Enabling greater subnational borrowing is often desirable but requires adoption of other reform policies to improve the fiscal capacity and creditworthiness of subnational governments over time. This paper reviews the rationale and potential for improving subnational development finance, outlines the overall landscape of institutional arrangements available for this purpose, and considers broad challenges involved. Based on a review of global practice and experience in selected Asian developing countries with a range of special entities and innovations to enhance subnational investment, it proposes a more integrated, strategic approach to building subnational development finance.

Author: Paul Smoke Publisher: Asian Development Bank Publication year: 2019


World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work

Pages 135-136 are on property tax. 'Another form of recurrent taxation that can be tapped for further resources in most developing countries is immovable property taxes. These taxes do not distort labor markets, human capital accumulation, or innovation decisions. Property taxes also provide a stable source of revenue that is less susceptible to short-term economic fluctuations and is difficult to evade. And although property taxes would likely not flow into federal social protection schemes (they are typically raised by local governments), they could fund regional or municipal social services or reduce the level of federal transfers to local governments. On average, high-income countries raise 1.1 percent of GDP from immovable property taxes. In middle income countries, these taxes yield about 0.4 percent of GDP.19 Yet property taxes represent untapped revenue potential for all countries. This revenue gap is estimated to be 0.9 percent of GDP in middle-income countries and as much as 2.9 percent in high-income countries.20 Governments in Sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to be missing out on revenues of 0.5 to 1 percent of GDP because of no property taxes whatsoever or their limited application.'
 

Author: World Bank Publisher: World Bank Publication year: 2018


Paying for Stormwater Management: What are the Options?

On the afternoon and evening of July 8, 2013, heavy rains flooded parts of Mississauga, disrupting the lives of residents and damaging public and private property. The stormwater management system in the city proved inadequate to meet the levels of runoff experienced on that day. Mississauga is not the only city in this situation. In 2007, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimated that the stormwater management infrastructure deficit across Canada stood at approximately $31 billion. The Ontario Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal (now the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure) estimated in 2005 that between 2005 and 2020, water infrastructure needs in the province would require investments of $28 billion for capital renewals, $12.4 billion to reduce asset and project backlogs, and $10.1 billion for growth. Stormwater management infrastructure controls the quality and quantity of stormwater that reaches water bodies and protects the health, safety, and sustainability of public and natural environments. The July 8 storm highlighted the need to direct significant amounts of financial and political capital towards municipal infrastructure management. This paper evaluates the financial tools available to fund stormwater infrastructure (property taxes, development charges or cash-in-lieu payments, grants, borrowing, and user charges), and proposes user charges as the most appropriate. User charges are fees earmarked to specific projects or services. They are based on a benefits-received principle, and are considered a fair form of revenue, because the beneficiaries of a service are directly charged for their consumption of that service. Further, user charges are a dedicated and stable funding source based on clear objectives related to the city’s stormwater infrastructure needs. None of the alternative funding tools offers the same combination of stable and predictable revenues and fair pricing. The paper also describes how the City of Mississauga is currently implementing a user charge dedicated to stormwater management, with billing introduced in early 2016.

 

Author: Daniella Dávila Aquije Publisher: University of Toronto Publication year: 2016


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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