New book details revenue sources for cash-strapped municipalities

Friday, May 21, 2010

For Immediate Release
Contact: Anthony Flint 617-503-2116

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (May 21, 2010) – The nation’s cities and towns are being squeezed as never before – receiving less from federal and state government, facing resistance raising taxes or fees at the local level because of economic hard times, and yet still expected to provide basic services.

Innovations in public finance for these cash-strapped municipalities – special fees, complex debt structures, value capture, and other financing arrangements – are detailed in a new volume, Municipal Revenues and Land Policies, a record of the proceedings of the Lincoln Institute’s 4th annual Land Policy Conference.

Although much public discourse about the effects of the 2008 financial crisis on government finances focuses on federal and state budget deficits, most of the actual impacts are at the municipal level where local governments clean streets, repair roads, hire teachers, fight fires, prevent crime, and maintain the water and sewer systems. Gregory K. Ingram, president of the Lincoln Institute and co-editor of the book with Yu-Hung Hong, warns of the peril to come if municipalities are no longer financially able to provide daily public services.

Even as they become more creative, cities and towns face voter resistance to any tax and user fee increases. Yet, curtailments in local services will adversely affect residents’ welfare and may lead to labor and capital out-migration, Ingram said.

To explore municipal revenue options in the face of severe economic distress, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy convened scholars and practitioners in June 2009 to discuss selected fiscal instruments. Public finance experts with backgrounds in economics, law, planning, and political science were invited to exchange their ideas. The chapters in this volume present key themes that emerged from the discussions.

There is no quick fix in the face of fiscal uncertainty, Ingram said, but it is clear that solutions must not undermine the city’s economic base; tax hikes should be tied to service improvements; cities should encourage private provision of club goods to complement local public services; and a strong city government is needed to work with higher-level governments. These and other solutions for municipal finance policy are now more important than ever.

Municipal Revenues and Land Policies will be available at the 5th annual Land Policy Conference, “The Environment, Climate Change, and Land Policies,” being held May 23-25 at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. The annual land policy conference has addressed such topics as property rights, taxation, and decentralization of government.


The Importance of Municipal Finance

1. Municipal Revenue Options in the Time of Financial Crisis, Gregory K. Ingram and Yu-Hung Hong

2. Financing Cities, Robert P. Inman

Intergovernmental Transfers and Municipal Fiscal Structures

3. Intergovernmental Transfers to Local Governments, David E. Wildasin

Commentary, Michael Smart

4. Trends in Local Government Revenues: The Old, the New, and the Future, J. Edwin Benton

Commentary, Jocelyn M. Johnston

5. Creative Designs of the Patchwork Quilt of Municipal Finance, Michael A. Pagano

Commentary, Carol O’Cleireacain

Broad-Based Local Taxes and Development Impact Fees

6. The Contribution of Local Sales and Income Taxes to Fiscal Autonomy, John L. Mikesell

Commentary, Cynthia L. Rogers

7. The Effects of Development Impact Fees on Local Fiscal Conditions, Gregory S. Burge

Commentary, Albert Saiz

8. A New Financial Instrument of Value Capture in São Paulo, Paulo Sandroni

Commentary, Margaret Walls

Financing Submunicipal Services

9. Governance Structures and Financial Authority in Submunicipal Districts, Robert J. Eger III and Richard C. Feiock; Commentary, Richard Briffault

10. Illustrating the Effects of Business Improvement Districts on Municipal Coffers, Leah Brooks and Rachel Meltzer; Commentary, Lynne B. Sagalyn

11. Does TIF Make It More Difficult to Manage Municipal Budgets?, David F. Merriman

Commentary, Mark Skidmore

12. Homeowners Associations and Their Impact on the Local Public Budget, Ron Cheung

Commentary, John E. Anderson

Capital Financing of Infrastructure

13. Complex Debt for Financing Infrastructure, Jeffrey I. Chapman; Commentary, Mark D. Robbins and William Simonsen

14. Prospects for Private Infrastructure in the United States: The Case of Toll Roads, José A. Gómez-Ibáñez; Commentary, José C. Carbajo

Comparisons of the Property Tax with Other Revenue Instruments

15. An Analysis of Alternative Revenue Sources for Local Governments, David L. Sjoquist and Andrew V. Stephenson; Commentary, William F. Fox

16. How Alternative Revenue Structures Are Changing Local Government, Tracy M. Gordon and Kim Rueben; Commentary, Michael J. Wasylenko

About the Editors

Gregory K. Ingram is president and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and cochair of the Department of International Studies.

Yu-Hung Hong is a fellow at the Lincoln Institute and a visiting assistant professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Municipal Revenues and Land Policies Edited by Gregory K. Ingram and Yu-Hung Hong 2010 / 560 pages / Paper / $30.00 ISBN: 978-1-55844-208-5

For review copies contact

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a leading resource for key issues about the use, regulation and taxation of land. Providing high-quality education and research, the institute strives to improve public dialogue and decisions about land policy.

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